Frequently Asked Questions About Health Information Exchanges (HIE)

What is a HIE?

Princeton HealthCare System's Health Information Exchange (HIE) called Princeton HealthConnect® uses health care technology allows hospitals, doctors and other health care providers to electronically share health information with each other in a secure, timely manner. This health information could include reports about your illnesses, injuries, allergies, medicines and test results.

Why has Princeton HealthCare System created a HIE now?

Technology has changed the way we shop, bank, work and communicate. Now, it's changing the way health care is provided. With paper medical records, it can be challenging for your doctors to work together to coordinate your care. As health providers begin to keep electronic medical records instead of paper, Princeton HealthConnect® makes the sharing of health information among providers, including pharmacies and labs, easier and more efficient.

What can the HIE do for me?

Many local health care providers are participating in Princeton HealthConnect® which provides doctors involved in your medical care the ability to share information about your overall health, including your history of illnesses or injuries (like diabetes or a broken bone), allergies, test results (like x-rays and blood tests) and lists of medicines you are taking or have taken in the past. The goal is for you to receive coordinated care more efficiently.

How will my information be used?

Medical information obtained through Princeton HealthConnect® will be used for treatment, payment and operations reasons only. Policies follow federal and state laws and limit how your information can be used or disclosed through Princeton HealthConnect®. The Joint Notice of Privacy Practices from PHCS and/ or your health care provider explains in detail how we may use or disclose your health information. 

Who can access my records?

Only your participating providers who are treating you and their authorized associated staff who are specifically given rights to Princeton HealthConnect® can access your records through Princeton HealthConnect®. For example, if one of your providers participates in Princeton HealthConnect®, he or she can access your health information maintained by your other providers who also participate in Princeton HealthConnect®.

Other "Connected HIEs"

Princeton HealthCare System will also be creating secure "connections" to other community-based HIE networks that are used by other hospitals or physicians. These HIE connections could benefit you if you have health providers both in Princeton HealthConnect® and in another HIE network. For example, if you are being treated by two doctors - one who is Princeton HealthConnect® and another who participates in a different HIE - your two doctors could share your medical information through a secure connection between the two HIEs to better coordinate your care.

Connections with other HIEs could have a positive impact on your overall health care. However, Princeton HealthConnect® will not connect to another HIE unless it meets Princeton HealthCare System's high standards for privacy and security. We look forward to working together with other HIEs in the future

How secure is the Princeton HealthCare System HIE?

Special technology features are used to keep your information secure and prevent your records from being accessed by anyone who is not supposed to have access to your information. HIE technology has added security features, such as audit logs, which keep track of who accessed your records, and when. Data encryption is also used to provide an even higher level of security.

If improper access does occur through Princeton HealthConnect®, while unlikely even with all these security protections in place, Princeton HealthCare System will take steps to correct the problem.

What about my "sensitive" information?

"Sensitive" information includes information such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), human immunodeficiency (HIV), sexually transmitted diseases, drug and alcohol treatment records, behavioral health treatment records, and genetic testing information. This information may have certain special confidentiality protections under applicable state and federal law. Any disclosures of these types of records will be subject to these special protections.

We take your privacy very seriously. Princeton HealthConnect® has safeguards so that sensitive information is accessed appropriately and with your permission when required. "Sensitive" information shall only be accessible by health care providers who have a treatment relationship with you and have met criteria that may be required under applicable law before such information is disclosed, accessed, viewed, and/or used.

Can I access my own medical records?

With Princeton HealthConnect®, at this time, your records are only available to participating health care providers like your doctor who is treating you. If you want copies of your medical records, please contact your health providers directly. Doctors, hospitals, and other health care organizations can provide you with paper copies upon request. If your doctor uses an electronic medical record, you might also have the ability to receive an electronic copy.

In the future, your medical records could become available to you online through a secure portal. Princeton HealthCare System is working to give you better access to your medical records electronically.

How do I sign up?

There is no need to do anything further. Your health information is automatically stored in Princeton HealthConnect®, and, going forward, will be able to be accessed by your authorized treating health care providers who are participating in Princeton HealthConnect®. In addition, portions of your past medical history and data may also be available to your treating providers to review. The ability to have immediate access to your most recent health information, like your medication list, known allergies, lab results and radiology reports, can help your doctor start making better decisions right away.

How do I Opt-Out?

If you are a patient of Princeton HealthCare System and if you do not want your health information maintained on Princeton HealthConnect® to be electronically accessed, please submit a completed HIE Opt-Out form. This form can be submitted at the time of registration or after you receive services from Princeton HealthCare System. The forms are available from PHCS registrars, the PHCS Health Information Management Department or online.  Once you submit this form, your information will not be accessible to anyone through Princeton HealthConnect®, even in the case of an emergency. Your providers will need to get your information in the same way they have in the past, such as by telephone, fax or mail.

If you previously submitted an HIE Opt-Out but now have changed your mind, please complete, sign and submit a Revocation of Prior HIE Opt-Out form. This form can be submitted at the time of registration or after you receive services from Princeton HealthCare System. The forms are available from PHCS registrars, the PHCS Health Information Management Department or online.

I still have questions about opting out. Who do I contact?

If you have additional questions about Princeton HealthConnect® that are not covered above, please contact the PHCS Privacy Officer at 1.800.442.5188 or by email at: privacyofficer@princetonhcs.org,

What if I want more information about Health Information Exchanges?

For additional information, please also visit the Office of the National Coordinator Health IT website at http://www.healthit.gov/patients-families.