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Kansas Health Information Exchange seeks legislative changes

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at 8:30 p.m.

The Kansas Health Information Exchange is seeking changes to legislation so that it can be fully absorbed by the state.

Joe Davison, KHIE chairman, family practitioner at West Wichita Family Physicians and board member for the Wichita Health Information Exchange, said the board voted to propose changes in the language of the Kansas Health Information Technology Exchange Act, which was passed by the Legislature in 2011.

The proposed changes would allow the board’s authority to be passed to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Davison said.

In September, the board voted to relinquish its power to the state to oversee the continued regulation of sharing electronic medical records for patients.

Ultimately, the decision requires legislative approval, which the board hopes to gain this session.

But proposing changes to the legislation could pose challenges down the road, Davison said.

“Whenever you open legislation like that and let legislators peer inside that bill, you may find some who don’t like a particular piece and are not in favor of change. ... We want to keep the essence of the original bill the same,” he said.

The board has been working with legislators to get them up to speed and educate them on the functions of the exchange, Davison said in a previous interview.

Jon Rosell, Kansas Health Information Network secretary, WHIE secretary and executive director for the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, said he thinks the transition is sound.

“The changes being considered within the KHIE board makes sense to us here in Wichita,” he said. “The changes seem to be logical, practical changes to existing legislation. We’ll have no negative impact on local physicians’ practices.”

The KHIE board is also proposing some protective measures for physicians in certain situations who need to access patient information to save a person’s life.

“Generally, that information is sequestered, but in certain situations, ER providers have the ability to ‘break the glass’ to get them information and we wanted to be able to protect them,” Davison said.

The regulations would limit who has the ability to get the information and would require an audit trail that showed who accessed the information, he said.

Additionally, the board wants to see additional safeguards for medical records related to access provided through subpoenas and searches by attorneys, who might be gathering evidence for malpractice cases, Davison said.

“None of us like to think of that situation,” Davison said. “Nonetheless, we know records can’t be hidden in that fashion and we also know information in the exchange is not the primary source ... the exchange is not keeping all of the records, only pieces and part of them.”

Instead, they propose that patient information that is sought in such instances be accessed in the traditional ways and from the sources that have complete records, such as physician offices and hospitals.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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