The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued its final rule updating proposed changes to the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records regulations (also known as 42 CFR Part 2 or Part 2), which updates the 40 plus year old regulations to provide guidance on the sharing of substance abuse treatment in an electronic age.

According to OHHS, the Rule “improves the exchange of medical information in ways that protect the privacy of people receiving substance use treatment.”

Specifically, the Rule allows information exchange in integrated health care settings for treatment to patients, for research, and data exchange activities, while safeguarding the privacy of the information.

The final rule clarifies who is governed by Part 2, what information is included under the umbrella of part 2, how it can be shared and allows patient to provide a general consent to disclose the information to treating providers.

All of the changes are designed to provide information to health care providers in order to provide quality treatment to patients who seek treatment for substance use disorders, while continuing to protect it from those who are not authorized by law to receive it.

As one who was intimately involved in the process undertaken by SAMHSA to promulgate the new Rule, I applaud SAMHSA on its efforts to gather information from all stakeholders and the process that was used to get to the final result.