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Patients Gain Protections in Health Information Technology Law
Date:2/18/2009

Psychotherapy Gets Extra Privacy and Security Measures

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Patients across the United States will benefit from a new health information technology (HIT) law providing comprehensive privacy and security standards for patient records including strong, protective provisions for psychotherapy records. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the economic stimulus package, was passed by the House and Senate on February 13 and signed into law by President Obama on February 17.

The HITECH Act builds on the federal government's current efforts to encourage the development of a national interoperable, electronic health records network with the goal of providing improved patient care at lower cost. The core of the HITECH Act contains provisions to ensure records privacy and security as HIT develops. The Act will:

  • Provide for an ongoing process for setting standards to better ensure that privacy and security are protected in the health care system

  • Incorporate Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rule standards, where possible, including with regard to psychotherapy notes and other sensitive patient information

  • Improve upon the HIPAA "minimum necessary" standard, which requires that only the minimum amount of patient information can be disclosed depending on the request for the information

  • Implement further restrictions on health care plan use of patient records for administrative "health care operations" purposes

  • Allow a patient to pay privately for health care and not have his or her records included in an electronic network

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SOURCE American Psychological Association
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