HealthlinkNY Now Lets Patients Download Consent Forms Online So They Can Say 'YES' to Sharing Their Health Records

Now, Patients Can Print Consent Forms to Bring to Their Next Medical Appointment, So Providers Can Look Up Records Statewide and Get a Clearer Picture of Their Patients’ Health

HealthlinkNY Is the First in New York State to Offer Patients Downloadable Consent Forms Customized for Each of Their Participating Providers

June 15th, 2016 - Binghamton, New York—June 3, 2016… New York State has the nation’s largest health information network, capable of connecting every hospital, physician group, medical laboratory, and health care provider so they can share patient records and improve care. But its success is riding on one thing: Getting patients to just say “Yes!”

“Yes” means signing a consent form, because different provider organizations can’t share electronic patient data with each other without the patient’s written consent. So, HealthlinkNY, which operates the Health Information Exchange (HIE) in the Southern Tier of New York and the Hudson Valley, is making it easier for patients to say “Yes.” Now patients can go to the consent page on HealthlinkNY’s website (http://www.healthlinkny.com/why-give-consent-pg.html) to download and print customized consent forms for every provider they see, and bring signed consent forms to their providers at their next medical appointment. For auditing and security purposes, New York State requires paper consent forms and a photo ID for verification. Patients also need to submit a separate consent form to every different provider organization they see.

“We’ve constructed a remarkable network to deliver vital information to providers with just a click, but its effectiveness depends on a single piece of paper—a signed consent form from the patient,” explains Christina Galanis, president and CEO of HealthlinkNY. “That gives patients total control over who sees their medical records. When patients say ‘Yes', the information trigger is turned on, and patients get better and timelier care because their authorized clinicians have a much clearer picture of the patient’s history.”

How Consent Benefits Patients

Galanis says that when physicians can easily and quickly look up a patient’s records, the patient benefits:

  • In an emergency situation, when minutes count, providers can access a patient’s medical history, current medications, previous diagnoses, and medical tests, among other vital information. Even in non-emergencies, physicians have instant access to the information they need to make quicker decisions and reduce the risk of errors.
  • Patients no longer have to depend on their memories to remember every hospitalization, test, medication, and difficult-to-pronounce condition they have ever had, because their providers can look that up themselves. Providers get more accurate and complete information than the human mind can retain.
  • Travelers can rest assured that if they fall ill, their records can be looked up by any provider connected to an HIE in New York State. This is particularly important for college students living away from home, or someone with an extensive medical history.
  • Patients covered by high-deductible health plans can avoid paying for duplicate tests by asking providers to look up results, and potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  • When patients are discharged into short-term rehabilitation or long-term skilled nursing care, HealthlinkNY can ensure a seamless transition of care. Providers have instant access to hospital discharge records, reducing the likelihood of lapses or miscommunication between the two care settings. The same holds true for home health care agencies and their patients’ primary care physicians and specialists.
Patients Have Two Choices

Consumers who download consent forms will see they have two choices: they can either give their consent or deny their consent to make their records available at any time, even in a medical emergency. Galanis explains what that means. “Unless you specifically deny consent, emergency physicians and other clinicians are allowed to access your records in a case where you are non-responsive and unable to give consent,” she says. “In reality, very few people deny consent – only about 6 percent — because wouldn’t you want the person who treats you to have all the information he or she could possibly have?”

Another reason why almost all consumers give their consent is they are confident their data will be protected. “All data is encrypted. No temporary passwords are issued. We set different levels of access within a medical practice, so clerical staff see only administrative information,” Galanis says. “Also, patients can request a report of who has viewed their records through HealthlinkNY. Everything we do is designed to keep patient information safe and secure.”

The public is encouraged to visit http://www.healthlinkny.com/why-give-consent-pg.html to learn more about why granting your providers access to your health records through HealthlinkNY can improve your care.

About HealthlinkNY

HealthlinkNY is a Qualified Entity (QE), funded by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), which operates the health information exchange (HIE) as well as population health improvement programs (PHIP), supports healthcare delivery reform (DSRIP) and fosters collaboration among public and private health plans (CPC) for an 12-county region spanning the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Southern Tier of New York. The HealthlinkNY HIE offers electronic access to patients’ community-wide health records and serves as the region’s access point to the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY), supporting collaboration between healthcare providers across the state.