New York HIE | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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What is a Health Information Exchange (HIE)?
A health information exchange (HIE) is technology that allows healthcare information to pass electronically across organizations within a particular region or community. Clear and strict state and federal guidelines govern how the information can be exchanged, viewed, and used. The goal of the HIE is to make the information available when and where it is needed. STHL is the regional health information organization (RHIO) that governs the HIE in central NY, and currently serves a five-county area – Broome, Tioga, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego with expansion to additional NY counties expected in the coming years . For more details, click here.
How does an HIE improve the quality of healthcare?
Through the HIE, doctors and hospitals have the most
recent and complete healthcare records available when and
where they need it. Having this information can
improve the continuity of care for patients,
particularly for those with multiple conditions and several
different providers. In addition, the HIE can improve
the quality of emergency care when the attending caregiver
has immediate access to that patient's medical history.
Having the most accurate records can help avoid medical errors, duplicate testing, and adverse drug interactions. Improved communication through emails and automatic reminders (e.g., for appointments and medications) can keep both patient and caregiver "on track" with medications, procedure preparation, and follow up plans.
The HIE can save time and money too, with improved billing accuracy, reduced paper use and storage, and the ability to use the HIE information to complete some of the paperwork that patients need to sign.
Can patients see their own records?
The HIE offers an added benefit for patients who want to be more involved with their own care. Through the STHL Patient Portal, consumers can:
- Access their providers & health information
- Manage their consent & share data with doctors
- Monitor who is accessing their information
The STHL Patient Portal is easy. It’s secure. It’s free. Click on the Patient Portal link on the STHL website.
What about privacy?
Federal and state laws strictly protect the privacy and
confidentiality of health information. New York State
requires STHL and everyone that accesses information through
STHL to follow the same rules to protect the
privacy and security of records shared through this system.
Only doctors, nurses, and their staff who are involved in
the healthcare of that patient are allowed to access his or
records, and only after the patient has signed a consent form
authorizing it. Safeguards like passwords and
encryption also keep records from being accessed without
Patients can request a report of who has accessed their records. If unauthorized access does occur, STHL is required to investigate, remediate, report it to everyone affected, and take all steps necessary to ensure that such access does not happen again.
Which providers are participating in STHL?
Any hospital, clinic, or private practice in the central NY region is eligible to participate in the STHL HIE. The list of participating providers is expected to expand gradually until every doctor and healthcare facility is participating. Eventually, all of New York State and, one day, every state, will probably be connected to the HIE. Click here to see the current list of participants.
What information is available?
With the initial launch of the HIE in the Fall of
2009, the information available includes:
patient contact information, basic demographics, medical and family history, visits, clinical documents, diagnoses, procedures, allergies, medications, radiology images, and emergency contacts. Only information available from the participating providers' own electronic medical records will be included, so care received "out of the area" or information that has not been entered into that a participating provider's records will not be deposited into the HIE.
How does someone sign up?
To authorize an organization to access their records,
patients must sign a consent form at each participating
organization. A photo ID is required. The
consent form will be available at each organization. See
Consent Information to view a
sample of the form.
Alternatively, patients can sign up for an account with the STHL Patient Portal, click on Manage My Consent, and set consent through the convenience of the internet.