About Your Consent
Massachusetts has an 'opt in' law for the Mass HIway. This means that your healthcare organization needs to get your consent before using the Mass HIway in your care. This is different than 'opt out', which means that providers can automatically use a health information exchange for your care until you sign a form saying that is not what you want. Massachusetts chose 'opt in' to help make sure patients were given a choice and opportunity to have a discussion with their providers.
Your consent is given to your healthcare organization, so your consent form with your choice needs to be given to your healthcare organization, not the Mass HIway. Speak with your provider or the office staff about the process to give your consent choice.
Please note that public health reporting is mandatory by providers and to do so, they must use the Mass HIway. This means that your consent to report to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is not a requirement. For more information about reporting immunizations, click here.
As required by law, your providers will still have to get special permissions to share sensitive information like HIV test results or mental health care.
What happens when I give my consent?
- With your consent, you allow the healthcare organization to send the following information about you to the Mass HIway to be stored in a secure database. This data is used to search for other healthcare organizations that have health information about you for request.
1) full name
2) date of birth
3) current home address
5) phone number
7) medical record number
- With your consent, you allow your relationship to that organization to be listed in the Mass HIway network. A relationship means that you have received care at that organization and have given consent to that organization to use the Mass HIway. Your relationship can only be seen by other organizations where you have given consent.
- With your consent, you allow healthcare providers or other health workers at that organization to use Mass HIway to request, send, and receive health information about you for your care. Examples of other health workers could be a lab technician or someone in the medical records office. Speak with your doctor or the office staff about who is using the Mass HIway at that organization.
What if I say ‘No’ or don’t sign the consent form?
- That’s ok. But, if you do not consent for the Mass HIway, your providers will continue to send your health information using other ways, like fax or the mail. But that takes time and it’s hard to control who reads a fax or opens a piece of mail, so your information may not always be protected. The Mass HIway is designed to make this safer and faster.
What if I change my mind?
- Each healthcare organization will have its own process for you to change your choice, so speak with your doctor or the office staff to learn how.
For more information, click here for our patient fact sheet in English or click here for the Spanish version.