Center of Excellence for Protected Health Information

Summary: This project helps health care practitioners, individuals, states, and communities understand and apply health privacy laws related to their work, and it helps patients and families know what their rights are when seeking treatment for substance use disorders or mental health.

Opportunity: Confidentiality is a crucial component of the patient-provider relationship, particularly when people are seeking treatment for mental health or substance use disorders. Federal and state privacy laws protect mental health and substance use disorder treatment records while also allowing providers to share these records with other health care providers, patients’ families, and others. The overlapping laws can make it difficult for patients, their families, and health professionals to understand what information can be shared, with whom, and when. Clear and accurate information is important to both protect patient privacy and ensure that privacy laws are not incorrectly interpreted to prevent necessary disclosures of patient information.

Initiative: CAI’s Center of Excellence for Protected Health Information makes this complex content easily understandable through a combination of training and technical assistance services that include national and regional virtual training, individualized and group technical assistance, peer-to-peer consultation, e-learning, and dissemination of resources and job aids to support implementation. Technical assistance is designed to clarify confidentiality regulations and laws, link professionals to resources, and identify strategies to support practical implementation of privacy regulations. Central to our strategy is ensuring that the resources and assistance we provide are responsive to the context and needs of our audiences. In order to help accomplish this, we’ve assembled an advisory group of 13 national organizations, training and technical assistance centers, and leaders in the field.

Impact: We have provided training and technical assistance to clients in all 50 states and several territories. In the first two and a half years of this program, we have provided over 125 technical assistance engagements through remote consultations, online resources, peer-to-peer consultation, and resources tailored to the requestor’s needs. The Center of Excellence for Protected Health Information also maintains an online library with over 50 resources to improve understanding and application of federal privacy laws. Many of these resources were developed specifically for this project, including FAQs, tip sheets, briefs, templates, and on-demand learning products such as podcasts and archived webinars, videos, and e-learning modules.

Project funder and key partners: This project is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by CAI in partnership with the Legal Action Center.

Project website: coephi.org

Project contact: Michael Graziano, Project Director: focusphi.contact@caiglobal.org.

Disclaimer: Funding for this initiative was made possible by grant no. 1H79TI081743-01 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.