Frequently Asked Questions About San Diego Health Connect
Learn more about San Diego Health Connect and the health information exchange.
What is a health record?
The terms health record, medical record and medical chart are frequently used interchangeably to describe the document that chronicles your medical history or care. Your health record typically lists things like the dates of your past visits, diagnoses, medications, lab test results and treatments.
In the past, your health information was written on paper records and stored in multiple physician offices and hospital departments. When that information was shared between your health care providers, it was typically sent by mail or fax. If you visited multiple health care providers, you may have been responsible for keeping track of and transferring medical documents to each of your caregivers.
Today, many health care providers, including Sharp, utilize electronic health records, which are digital or computerized versions of your medical charts. Electronic health records provide caregivers with more complete, up-to-date information and help improve overall quality of care.
What is a health information exchange?
A health information exchange (HIE) is an online system that allows a health care provider to access clinical information about a patient from another health care facility in order to help make informed treatment decisions. An HIE provides a more comprehensive and consolidated clinical record for caregivers, regardless of the data's format and location within the county. Previous medical office or hospital visits, lab results, documentation of medications and allergies and other pertinent information are available 24 hours a day.
What is San Diego Health Connect?
San Diego Health Connect is the community health information exchange. This private and secure electronic exchange allows participating hospitals and health care providers throughout San Diego County to safely and quickly share patient health information — resulting in a more complete, up-to-date medical record that helps ensure you will receive the best care possible.
How does San Diego Health Connect work?
A participating caregiver caring for you can request your personal health information from other participating health care providers and facilities through San Diego Health Connect. Participating facilities with your electronic personal health information will transmit that information to the caregiver who requested it via the exchange, provided you have not opted out of sharing your medical record. The requesting caregiver will receive information such as laboratory and radiology results, medications and allergy lists, known drug reactions, diagnosis, procedures and immunizations.
Why is Sharp HealthCare participating?
We are committed to providing the safest, highest quality of care possible. One of the key components in providing this care is for clinicians to have up-to-date, complete patient medical records. The community health information exchange helps improve coordination of care by reducing the likelihood of caregivers ordering redundant tests and procedures, and can expedite the availability of your medical information for your caregivers.
What other health care providers are participating in San Diego Health Connect?
All of the major hospitals and health systems in the San Diego area, physicians and more support and participate in San Diego Health Connect. View an up-to-date list of participants.
How will my health information and privacy be protected?
Sharp and all health care organizations participating in San Diego Health Connect are required to meet state and federal laws to protect the privacy and security of your health and personal information. All providers participating in San Diego Health Connect agree to only access medical records as needed to provide or coordinate care.
In addition, San Diego Health Connect has created a secure system for information exchange that complies with state and federal privacy laws. The advanced technology uses specific protocols to ensure that your health information remains private and secure. San Diego Health Connect only facilitates exchange of the data and will not store patient health information. Learn more about the privacy and security.
When will my health information be shared?
We will only share your health information electronically through San Diego Health Connect if and when you see a health care provider for treatment outside of Sharp who participates in the community health information exchange. Your information will not be shared unless there is a request from a health care provider outside of Sharp who is caring for you.
How does this health information exchange benefit me?
By allowing your medical records to be included in the community health information exchange, Sharp-affiliated providers and caregivers can easily and more quickly view your health history electronically from other participating health care providers throughout the San Diego community. Having more complete and current information available at your Sharp-affiliated provider's visit or in an emergency will help your caregivers make more informed decisions to provide you with the best possible care, including avoiding unnecessary tests or procedures. Plus, your burden of having to relay your own medical history to each of our health care providers may be lessened.
What information is shared?
San Diego Health Connect gives your health care providers secure access to information like:
- Medical conditions
- Demographic information
- Inpatient hospital and outpatient hospital visits
- Known allergies and drug reactions
- Laboratory and radiology results
- Sharp Rees-Stealy medical office visits
I don't want to participate. How can I opt out?
Having your Sharp medical records made available through San Diego Health Connect is a personal decision. Sharp medical information will be visible to your non-Sharp caregivers through San Diego Health Connect unless you opt out by completing our online form. You will be asked to provide your Sharp HealthCare number, which can be found on your Sharp billing statement, on a Sharp hospital discharge summary or on your Sharp Rees-Stealy patient ID card. If you are not able to locate your Sharp HealthCare number, you may opt out of participating in San Diego Health Connect by calling 858-499-2415, 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
If you choose not to participate, your Sharp HealthCare medical information will not be shared through San Diego Health Connect; however, in the event you see a health care provider for treatment outside of Sharp, that health care provider may request and receive your medical information from Sharp through other methods, such as fax or mail.
Your opt-out request will be effective approximately five business days after submitting the request. You are free to opt back in at any time by completing and returning our opt-in form to the medical records/health information management department at any Sharp hospital or Sharp Rees-Stealy medical office. (We also have a Spanish version of the opt-in form available for you.)
If you seek care from a non-Sharp provider, you must also notify them that you do not want your information shared on the exchange. Please speak directly with each health care organization or provider to find out if they participate in San Diego Health Connect.
I've previously opted out, but have changed my mind. How do I opt back in?
If you previously chose not participate, you will need to notify us in person that you would like to now have your Sharp medical records made available to other health care providers via San Diego Health Connect. Please submit the completed opt-in form to the medical records/health information management department at any Sharp hospital or Sharp Rees-Stealy medical office. (We also have a Spanish version of the opt-in form available for you.)
There are a number of people in my household who receive care from Sharp. Why didn't everyone get a letter?
Sharp only sent letters to patients who had a visit at a Sharp hospital between Jan. 1, 2014, and March 15, 2015, and/or at a Sharp Rees-Stealy medical office between Jan. 1, 2013, and March 15, 2015. For the initial phase, only those individuals who received a notification letter in March or April 2015 will have their Sharp medical records made available through San Diego Health Connect upon request from a participating caregiver, assuming the patient did not previously opt out of participating in the medical information exchange.
For those individuals in your household who didn't receive a notification letter in the mail, their Sharp medical records will not be made available through San Diego Health Connect until their next Sharp hospital or Sharp Rees-Stealy visit. At this time, they will be provided information and the opportunity to opt out of having their Sharp medical records made available through San Diego Health Connect.
Even if an individual in your household didn't receive a notification letter, he or she can still complete the opt-out process now by submitting the opt-out form or calling 858-499-2415, 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
Who can I contact to learn more?
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