Saturday, July 02, 2022

Records!: A HIPAA Tragedy

HIPPA is not a real thing. But HIPAA is very real, and while it does not "protect" your right to wander through the public while carrying communicable diseases, it can cause headaches in other ways -- such as when you wish to send your medical records from one healthcare provider to another.

There are three characters in this play, aside from myself. As you may know, I have an eye condition called keratoconus. It was diagnosed when I was in Berkeley, and most of the care I've had surrounding it was done via my old Berkeley healthcare provider. Since moving to Portland, of course, I have a new healthcare provider. But they don't have the right resources to treat keratoconus in-house, so they have since referred me to a specialist. 

My quest is to transfer the medical records from my old healthcare provider to the specialist current provider had referred me to. The problem is that these records are rather substantial -- 180 pages long, in fact.

Act I

Specialist: ... and if you could send us any records you have of your past keratoconus treatments, that'd be great.

Me: Sure, I'd be happy to.

[I go home]

Me: Let's see ... medical records. Oh yes, I remember -- I had Old Provider send them to me a few months ago. They're on a PDF on my computer. How convenient.

[calls specialist]

Me: Hello! I have the medical records you want. How can I send them over to you? Your web portal says the file is too large for me to attach to an internal message.

Specialist: Oh, sorry. Can you fax it to us?

Me: Pardon?

Specialist: Fax. Or snail mail it to us.

Me: Well, it's 180 pages of records, so ... no. Do you have email?

Specialist: No, we can't accept them by email. It's a HIPAA thing.

Me: Then how come old provider emailed them to me?

Specialist: I don't know. Maybe they're lawless anarchists. You could physically bring them to us, maybe?

Me: You want me to physically print and deliver 180 pages of records to you? When I already have it as a digital PDF?

Specialist: Yes, that'd be fantastic.

Me: No, it wouldn't. There's no way to electronically transfer the document?

Specialist: Well, there is one way. 

Me: Wonderful.

Specialist: You could put it on a CD for us, and mail that.

Me: ... a CD. 

Specialist: Yes, I think that would work.

Me: Since it is 2022, how about a USB thumb drive?

Specialist: No.

Me: [Incredulous silence]

Specialist: Might I suggest Kinko's?

Me: [Incredulity yielding to bubbling rage]

Specialist: Or you could call your current provider, and ask them to fax the records. They do it all the time.

Act II

[Calls current provider]

Me: Hello! Could you please check to see if you have my old medical records, and send them to specialist?

Current provider #1: Sorry, wrong department. You need the records department. Shall I transfer you?

Me: Yes, please and thank you.

[Hold music]

Current provider #2: You have reached the records department. For all medical records except dental and vision records, press 1.

Me: Well, I need vision records, so ...

Current provider #2: For dental records, or general inquiries, press 2.

Me: [Waits patiently for "vision records" option]

Current provider #2: ... Would you like to hear these options again?

Me: Um, I guess I fall under "general inquiries"? 

[Presses 2]

Current provider #3: Hello, you reached "general inquiries". Can I help you?

Me: I'd like some vision records released.

Current provider #3: Oh, sorry, you need our records department for that. This is just the general information line. Shall I transfer you?

Me: [sigh] ... yes.

[Hold music]

Current provider #2: You have reached the records department. For all medical records except dental and vision records, press 1....

[Presses 1]

Current Provider #4: Hello! How can I be of service?

Me: I'd like to have some vision records released.

Current Provider #4: Sorry, that's not our department. You need the "records release" office. Shall I transfer you?

Me: Death is so near, and yet so far.

Current Provider #4: What?

Me: Yes, please transfer me.

[Hold music]

Current Provider #5: Records release department!

Me: I'd like to have some vision records released.

Current Provider #5: I can help with that!

Me: Praise be!

Current Provider #5: When were the records created?

Me: From [date to date]

Current Provider #5: That's from before you were a member.

Me: Yes. But I believe you have a copy?

Current Provider #5: Maybe we do, maybe we don't, but I can't release them. They're not our records.

Me: I know -- they're my records. Can't I authorize you to release them?

Current Provider #5: No, sorry. You'll have to call your old provider and have them fax the records. They do it all the time!


Me: Hello?

Old Provider: Hello! We received your request to have your medical records faxed to specialist.

Me: Great!

Old Provider: The problem is, those records are 180 pages. 

Me: I know.

Old Provider: That's too many for us to fax. 

Me: You're kidding.

Old Provider: Can we email it instead?

Me: Somebody is going to die.


1 comment:

DL said...

While in the pdf, choose print, and choose "print to pdf" as your printer. Do that to break it into smaller chunks (say, 45 pages each).small enough so you can use the online portal.. Hopefully that will do it.