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MGMA Tells HHS New EMR Disclosure Requirements 'Onerous'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 20, 2010

The Medical Group Management Association told HHS this week that new HIPAA disclosure requirements for electronic medical records are burdensome, unnecessary, costly, and may discourage physicians from adopting the new technology.

The 2003 HIPAA Privacy Rule permits patients to request an accounting of disclosures of their protected health information. However, a new provision expands the type of information required in this accounting, and medical groups using EMR are now required to track all disclosures of patient information, including treatment, payment, and healthcare operation.

"MGMA asserts that this onerous new requirement on physician practices will be extremely difficult to achieve without an enormous outlay of resources," MGMA President and CEO William F. Jessee, MD, said in a 21-page letter to Georgina C. Verdugo, director of HHS's Office for Civil Rights. "These resources would be better utilized by physician practices to provide direct patient care. This mandate runs counter to the nation's efforts to improve patient care and reduce waste and inefficiency through administrative simplification and adoption of electronic health records."

An MGMA online survey of more than 360 practice administrators, representing more than 7,000 physicians, found most administrators had received very few accounting for disclosure requests from patients since 2003. The survey respondents expressed concerns about the cost, staff training, and computer upgrades required for compliance.

MGMA highlighted five critical concerns:

  • Administrative burden on physician practices;
  • Low volume of patient requests for accounting reports;
  • Burdensome and unnecessary accounting for treatment disclosures;
  • Burdensome and unnecessary accounting for payment and healthcare operations disclosures;
  • The rule's discouraging effect on physician adoption of EHRs.

While calling MGMA "a strong supporter of patient access to and protection of their health information," Jessee asked Verdugo for "significant modification to the requirements and request that OCR continue to closely monitor the industry to ascertain the impact of this regulation on physician practices."

Jessee's letter was in response to the "HIPAA Privacy Rule Accounting of Disclosures Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act; Request for Information," which was published in the May 3 Federal Register.


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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