Privacy Issues in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment: Information Sharing Between Providers and Managed Care Organizations: Final Report. B. Developing a National Standard for What Constitutes "Minimum Necessary" Information

01/17/2003

One way to increase the use of privacy-sensitive approaches to the sharing of personal health information is to develop a national standard for what constitutes “minimum necessary” information.  Such a standard could both help consumers understand what information MCOs need and why and eliminate the wide, plan-to-plan differences in the information that is collected.  Moreover, the minimum necessary information set could be implemented through a common treatment request form.  This would reduce the burden, still faced by providers in most states, of responding to many different types of health plan requests.  However, developing a nationally applicable “minimum necessary” set of information is not an easy task. 

For purposes of discussion, we will assume that if a nationally applicable minimum necessary information set were to be developed, HHS would lead the effort.  Clearly, given the differences of opinion among stakeholders, some party that is viewed as neutral and outside of the managed care, advocacy, and provider communities must lead the effort so that the stakeholders can view the outcome as legitimate. 

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