New law will soon allow electronic sharing of patient information

SPRINGFIELD — Doctors seeking to improve patient care can soon use Health Information Exchanges to share vital patient health information.

Legislation recently signed by the governor and backed with strong bipartisan support in the
General Assembly authorizes doctors to use the exchanges to improve their ability to treat patients.

The exchanges allow health-care providers to share a patient’s personal health information electronically. HIEs are required to be secure, confidential and to meet national standards.

“Modernizing the way we, as a state, address health care can reduce hassles for patients when they visit their doctors,” said state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, vice chair of the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee. “Allowing doctors to use Health Information Exchanges will give them new tools to improve patients’ quality of care.”

House Bill 5925 improves the state’s compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The law ensures the Clinical Laboratory Blood Bank Act, the AIDS Confidentiality Act and the Genetic Information Privacy Act are in line with HIPPA regulations.

The law sponsored by Hunter and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, also prevents insurance companies from using pre-existing conditions like HIV/AIDS to determine the cost of life and health insurance.

“Insurance allows people to afford health care. Patients shouldn’t have to worry about being penalized for needing their insurance coverage,” Hunter said.

Insurance companies can receive personal health information only if patients voluntarily allow access. The prohibition does not apply to long-term care policies and mirrors exceptions under HIPAA.

The measure goes into effect Jan. 1.

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