Electronic Release of Clinical Laboratory Results: A Review of State and Federal Policy

The National Academy for State Health Policy

The sharing of lab results with providers and patients is subject to an array of federal and state laws. This paper provides information to help policymakers understand the issues.

January 2010

Health information exchange (HIE) — in particular the electronic sharing of laboratory results — is the subject of this paper from The National Academy for State Health Policy. State and national initiatives using HIE are gaining momentum in the wake of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which provides over $40 billion to promote health information technology, including electronic health records (EHRs) and HIE.

The release of laboratory results is guided by regulations issued under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as well as numerous state-specific medical release and laboratory licensing laws. This paper is intended to provide policymakers with useful background on:

  • Policy issues related to sharing lab results with providers and patients, and how those terms are defined
  • The pertinent laws and how they are interpreted by various states
  • How HIPAA and CLIA relate to each other
  • Opportunities for reviewing, reinterpreting, and possibly updating laws to fit with new electronic infrastructure and capabilities

The complete paper is available under Document Downloads below.