If you are like most people, your health care involves a variety of providers and sites – doctors, nurses, hospitals, specialists, clinical laboratories, pharmacies and many others. Many of these providers are starting to switch from using paper records to electronic ones, and Virtua is taking advantage of this opportunity to make records more accessible through the creation of a Health Information Exchange (HIE).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a HIE?
Virtua's Health Information Exchange (HIE) allows your hospitals, doctors and other health care providers to electronically share your personal health information (PHI) with each other in a secure, timely manner. This health information could include reports about your illnesses, injuries, allergies, medicines and test results.
How will my information be used?
PHI obtained through the Virtua HIE will be used in the same way it is currently used; for treatment, payment and operations reasons only. Policies that follow federal and state law limit how your information can be used or disclosed through the Virtua HIE. The HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices from your health care provider explains in detail how and why your information is used.
How does the HIE work?
In order for electronic personal health information (EPHI) to be obtained by your provider (e.g., your X-Ray results electronically sent back from Radiology to the physician who ordered them), all EPHI is stored in, and may pass through, the Virtua secure server. When participating in the Virtua HIE, only your authorized health care providers will have access to the EPHI stored in that server.
Who can access my records?
Only your providers who are treating you and their associated staff who are specifically given rights to the Virtua HIE can access your records through the Virtua HIE.
How secure is the Virtua HIE?
Special security features, including data encryption and audit logs, are used to keep your information secure and prevent your records from being accessed by anyone who is not supposed to have access to your information.
Even with all these security protections in place, if improper access does occur through the Virtua HIE, the law requires that you be notified and Virtua will take steps to correct the problem.
What about my "sensitive" information?
"Sensitive information" that is specifically restricted by more protective state or federal laws will generally be kept "behind a wall" and disclosed only with your permission. Sensitive information includes information such as HIV/AIDS, venereal diseases, behavioral health treatment records, and genetic testing.
We take your privacy very seriously. The Virtua HIE has safeguards to ensure as best as possible that sensitive information is accessed appropriately and with your permission when required.
What can the HIE do for me?
Technology has changed the way we shop, bank, work, and communicate. Now, it's changing the way health care is provided. With paper medical records, it can be challenging for your doctors to work together to coordinate your care. Through the Virtua HIE, providers involved in your medical care can share information about your overall health, including history of illnesses or injuries (like diabetes or a broken bone), allergies, test results (like x-rays and blood tests) and lists of medicines.
If you see multiple doctors who participate in the Virtua HIE, they may see a more complete picture of your health, make more informed treatment decisions and coordinate care more efficiently.
Other "Connected HIEs"
Virtua will also be creating secure "connections" to health care providers who participate in other community-based HIE networks like Virtua’s. For example, if you are being treated by two doctors – one who is in the Virtua HIE and another who participates in a different HIE – your two doctors could share your medical information through a secure connection between the two HIEs to better coordinate your care.
The Virtua HIE will not connect to another HIE unless it meets Virtua's high standards for privacy and security.
Can I access my own medical records?
With the Virtua HIE, your records are only available to participating health care providers, for instance, the doctor who is treating you. If you want copies of your medical records, you should contact your health providers directly.
How do I sign up?
There is no need to do anything further. Your health information is automatically stored in the Virtua HIE and will be made accessible to HIE participants unless you decide to "Opt Out."
If you do not want your health information to be electronically accessed through the Virtua HIE, you must submit a completed Virtua HIE Opt-Out form.
Once you submit this form, your information will not be accessible to anyone through the Virtua HIE, even in the case of an emergency, and your providers will need to share your information with each other in the same way they have in the past, such as by telephone, fax, or mail.
If you previously submitted a Virtua HIE Opt-Out but now have changed your mind, you must complete, sign, and submit a Cancellation of Prior HIE Opt-Out form which will cancel your previous decision to "Opt Out."
I still have questions. Who do I contact?
If you have additional questions about the Virtua HIE that are not covered in this brochure, please contact the Virtua HIE Customer Support Center at 1-888-847-8823.