What is Rochester RHIO?
The Rochester Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) is a secure, electronic health information exchange that gives authorized medical providers access to essential patient information such as test results, lab reports, radiology results, medication history, insurance eligibility and more.
Why do we need a RHIO?
People often visit many different offices, physicians and other providers when getting help with a medical condition. With RHIO, your information goes where you go. That helps your doctors to make more informed decisions about your care and treatment with accurate, up to date information. It also helps to eliminate repeated testing, allows for easier second opinions, reduces the risk of adverse drug reactions, and minimizes errors caused by hard-to-read handwriting and transcriptions. By allowing providers to work more efficiently, the RHIO can help moderate the growing cost of health care.
Who created the RHIO?
RHIO is a non-profit, community-run organization. It has been developed by and for doctors, hospital systems, health insurers and privacy officers in the 13-county Greater Rochester area. The state and federal government are promoting the creation of RHIOs in a movement toward national standards for secure electronic exchange of health information. The Rochester RHIO is one of about 300 in development.
Who provides patient information to the RHIO?
About forty healthcare organizations in the Greater Rochester area are providing patient information to the exchange, including major hospitals, reference labs, insurance providers and radiology practices.To see a full list of data providers, visit http://www.grrhio.org/about/dataproviders.aspx
How will doctors and medical providers use my information?
Your electronic health information will be used by the healthcare providers that you allow only to:
- Provide you with medical treatment and related services
- Check whether you have health insurance and what it covers
- Evaluate and improve the quality of medical care provided to all patients
How do I know if my doctor participates in Rochester RHIO?
Click on Participating Providers for a listing. You can use our Patient Portal by clicking on My Account for a more detailed listing.
If my doctor begins using Rochester RHIO, does that mean he/she can view my information electronically before I sign a form?
No. All patients must sign a consent form or provide consent online for their chosen providers to view information electronically.
What if my doctor is not a participant?
If you visit a doctor who is not yet a participant and agree that Rochester RHIO is a valuable service for patients and physicians, you are welcome to encourage him or her to join. Both doctors and consumers can get more information by visiting www.RochesterRHIO.org
Will Rochester RHIO help me in a medical emergency?
Yes. In a medical emergency, you are likely to be seen by doctors who are not familiar with your medical history.
- If the emergency is life-threatening, these doctors would be able to access your medication history, recent tests, allergies, and other information that will help them to save your life.
- In an emergency that is not life-threatening, Rochester RHIO simplifies the process of providing the doctor with medical history information if you provide consent.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have declined consent to a particular provider, that doctor – as well as all colleagues and staff members in the practice, hospital, or other organization where he/she is employed – will NOT be able to access your information even in a life-threatening emergency.
How does electronic prescription ordering (eRx) work?
If your doctor uses this feature, instead of writing a paper script or phoning your pharmacy, the doctor or nurse types the order into a secure digital ordering form. The ordering software provides a warning if the dosage appears wrong, if there may be an adverse reaction with other drugs you are taking, or other potential problems. The order is then sent electronically to the participating pharmacy of your choice. Almost all area pharmacies, including Wegmans, Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens accept electronic prescriptions.
Who will be able to access my personal health information using Rochester RHIO?
RHIO is only being used by authorized medical professionals to improve patient care. The federal and state rules protecting privacy and personal control of medical information aren’t changing. Most patients currently allow medical professionals to the clinical information in Rochester RHIO via postal mail, fax machines, and phone calls. The RHIO allows it to be exchanged faster and more efficiently using a secure online exchange. Patients choose whether to participate in the RHIO.
What if I don’t want my medical information available through the RHIO?
Patients can choose not to have their information shared electronically via the RHIO by declining consent to their medical providers. For most people, this information is already being shared by phone, fax or hard-copy as part of their patient care. It is important to note that by not participating in the RHIO it will not change the care you receive from your physician. However, if you have declined consent to a particular provider, that doctor - as well as all colleagues and staff members in the practice, hospital, or other organization where he/she is employed - will NOT be able to access your information using Rochester RHIO, even in a life-threatening emergency.
What if I want to exclude a certain lab test or medical procedure from the exchange or chose to pay out of pocket for a given procedure so my insurance company won't know about it?
The RHIO is not set up to exclude specific visits from the health information exchange. Your Rochester RHIO information may relate to sensitive health conditions including but not restricted to alcohol and drug abuse problems; birth control and abortion; genetic diseases or tests; HIV/AIDS; mental health conditions; and sexually transmitted disease. If you want to prevent all your health care providers from knowing about a specific medical event you may want to consider not participating in the RHIO.
What is the consent process for minors?
Parents or guardians can provide consent on their children’s behalf for most services.
New York State has special privacy protections for minors who seek medical services related to reproductive health, substance use/abuse, or mental health issues. Children younger than 18 who request or receive one of these minor-consented services are required to sign a separate RHIO consent form. The form allows them to revoke all prior consents and remove their information from Rochester RHIO, or to reaffirm consents and keep their information available to their health care providers electronically.
Will the RHIO be a target for identity thieves and hackers?
The Rochester RHIO does not create a centralized database of patient information, just a secure way to exchange information electronically between health care providers. The RHIO‘s technology offers new tools for patient privacy that protect against unauthorized use of the exchange. The patient information being exchanged will remain protected at the hospital or doctor’s office or pharmacy, where it is now.
Aren’t paper records safer than sharing information electronically?
Unauthorized access to paper records is a frequently reported problem. For instance, in the current system, when one provider wants to share test results with another provider, that information is typically faxed to the second provider’s office. Any number of office staffers has access to that fax and there may be no record of who actually sees it, reviews it or files it. It’s certain that electronic sharing will be faster and more efficient, with less chance of mistakes than handwritten orders and rushed conversations can create. Further, RHIO provides the ability to track each person who views, reviews and files the results. In this way, the RHIO offers greater privacy protection than the current system.
What security will there be to prevent unauthorized access to health information?
The RHIO employs role-based security with the most advanced information safeguards available. Encryption, password protection, the ability to track every viewer and other safeguards protect against unauthorized use of the exchange. The precautions are reviewed by a panel of HIPAA compliance officers from hospitals in the region, as well as regional and national information technology experts.
Who’s protecting the privacy of health information shared by the RHIO?
A panel comprised of the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance officers from hospitals in the 13-county region is ensuring that patient privacy is protected. Working groups of other health care professionals have developed the recommendations for each RHIO function – lab tests, electronic prescribing and radiology results. The HIPAA compliance panel will review all of these projects. Its sole purpose is to ensure that the RHIO’s electronic exchange conforms to laws and safeguards that protect patient privacy.
Will my doctor or hospital be required to take part in the RHIO?
Not immediately, but in the future it appears likely that the federal government will require electronic health information as part of the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. Most hospitals and many physician practices today share information electronically over private Intranet networks. The RHIO will extend sharing to other health care providers over secure Internet connections. Providers won’t be forced to participate, but the Rochester medical community has a long tradition of working cooperatively to better serve patients.
How much will all of this cost, and who’s paying for it?
The Rochester RHIO was created in 2006 with a $4.4 million state grant and $1.9 million in funds from local businesses, hospitals and health insurers. This funding supported the RHIO in accomplishing its initial objectives. Additional grant funding and community revenue streams have supported the RHIO's development into a mature, sustainable health information exchange.
What area is being served by the Rochester RHIO? Who runs it?
The Rochester RHIO serves an 13-county region in the Finger Lakes area – Allegany, Chemung, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates Counties. Its board is comprised of health professionals, business people and consumers who represent the local community. The executive director is Ted Kremer, a professional in health information technology with a master’s degree in public health from Yale University.
What if I still have questions?
You can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone the Rochester RHIO answer line:
Toll free: 877.865.RHIO (7446)
Rochester area: 585.410.6800