Healthcare information has moved into the digital age, where what once were paper files in cabinets are now electronic files in databases, accessible by many. Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the HITECH Act), $19 billion have been allocated with the goal of creating electronic health records (EHRs) for all Americans by 2014.
EHRs can be transferred and shared among healthcare practitioners via regional Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) and other technologies. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), eventually the records will be exchanged via a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). As the ACA was rolled out in the fall of 2013, healthcare providers have been working with software vendors to implement electronic record systems to make patient data available to the NHIN.
As digital patient records are stored, shared, and accessible in database systems, it is important for survivors and advocates to understand how health information can be shared, their rights to privacy, and what they can do to maintain or advocate for stronger privacy around their healthcare records.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Project and the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health have partnered to produce the following guidance on these issues: