Privacy Issues in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment: Information Sharing Between Providers and Managed Care Organizations: Final Report. 2. Names Removed

01/17/2003

One advocate and one provider association representative raised the issue of giving only ID numbers, rather than patient names, to a plan. 1   This arrangement was negotiated between one plan and a group of concerned providers, and was facilitated by the state psychological association.  We came across one instance (in a third interview) in which this no-name option might have been particularly useful, though it was not raised by the respondent.  In this instance, some of the clinicians who would be reviewing case information for a university’s health plan are also faculty for the university, making them privy to the names of students or other faculty who were receiving treatment.  The plan is small, and one employee acts as the central point for distributing case information for review.  She stated that she knew who should not see which names and that she protected patients by sharing their names with clinical reviewers on a case-by-case basis.  In our view, the no-name policy would be effective here and possibly a more reliable option in similar instances.  Another option, exercised by some plans, is to request first name only.


The advocate directly suggested that only ID should need to be provided.  The provider association representative said sharing name had been a concern for some providers, but later in the interview noted she believed it was acceptable to share with plans what was previously required under indemnity insurance, which included identifying information.

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