Epic Systems Stops Access for Selected Particle Health Customers Due to Patient Privacy Issues

Epic Systems has shut down access to information for a startup company called Particle Health after it alleged that the company was disclosing patient information to third-party organizations for non-treatment-related reasons. Epic, the biggest electronic health records provider in the United States, claimed that Particle Health was doing unauthorized and unethical information sharing that potentially violate the HIPAA Privacy Act. Epic already informed its clients that the association with Particle Health was stopped.

Particle Health is part of the Carequality network, which promotes interoperability and streamlines health data exchange. Network members serve as intermediaries linking various healthcare networks nationwide. The Carequality network is facilitating the exchange of over 400 million documents monthly. Companies that join the Carequality network must commit to sharing patient data only for specific purposes like treatment. Epic answers requests for information with treatment purposes and ensures that the recipient is actively providing care to the patient who requested the records.

On March 21, 2024, Epic sent in a formal dispute with Carequality regarding Particle Health and its participant facilities. It claimed that they might be incorrectly representing the objective for record requests and revoked its relationship with Particle Health on the same day. A blog post by Particle Health on April 9, 2024 explained that it has taken fast action to deal with the concern after Epic stopped access to requests for data involving some of its clients and affirmed that it is committed to upholding privacy and security. It mentioned that it subjects its clients to a rigid onboarding process and demands their adherence to the requirements of the Carequality network. Particle Health stated that Epic didn’t stop data access for the organization and Carequality hasn’t revoked Particle Health’s capability to participate in data exchange; nevertheless, since March 21, 2024, Epic ceased responding to Particle Health’s data requests for some of its customers without a clear statement of the reason for this action.

Particle Health likewise indicated concern that some people at Epic believed that a number of its clients may be incorrectly representing the objective connected with their record requests, then interpreted that to claim that Particle Health may not be doing its responsibilities as a Carequality implementer. Particle Health stated it strongly objects to those as mentioned earlier and would welcome investigations of the former, and mentioned that it has always served in good faith and implemented the guidelines. There is no standard guide to defining treatment and the application of the meaning of treatment as it relates to data requests.

Particle Health founder, Troy Bannister, posted on LinkedIn that this decision has adversely affected many patients, and possibly puts 6M+ patient cases each year at risk. The company believes that this unilateral action violates important regulations created to be sure that this does not occur and is important to the continuous treatment of all patients.

Epic stated the explanation for removing access was because of issues in patient record exchange trends, like requests for many records in a specific geographic area, and that selected Particle Health clients were not giving back new information from patients, a red flag that indicates the information is being given for reasons not associated with treatment. After assessing Particle Health’s new participant relationships, which include companies such as MDPortals, Integritort, and Reveleer, Epic confirmed that information sharing was probably not for treatment reasons and stopped access for some of Particle Health’s clients. Epic additionally explained that it got information from another Carequality member that Integritort was trying to utilize patient information to find participants in a probable class action lawsuit. Epic asked Particle Health to give more information about how it qualifies client’s data for treatment purposes.

Particle Health mentioned that significant progress has been made towards dealing with this connectivity, and some clients are already reconnected. It is continuing to work collaboratively with Epic and is determined to uphold its mission of serving customers and supporting the acceptable use of health data exchanges.

About the Author

Elizabeth Hernandez
Elizabeth Hernandez is the editor of HIPAA News. Elizabeth is an experienced journalist who has worked in the healthcare sector for several years. Her expertise is not limited to general healthcare reporting but extends to specialized areas of healthcare compliance and HIPAA compliance. Elizabeth's knowledge in these areas has made her a reliable source for information on the complexities of healthcare regulations. Elizabeth's contribution to the field extends to helping readers understand the importance of patient privacy and secure handling of health information. Elizabeth holds a postgraduate degree in journalism. You can follow Elizabeth on twitter at https://twitter.com/ElizabethHzone