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Oklahoma Bureaucrats Want Your Mental Health Records

Curt and Katie chat about some Oklahoma legislation about health information exchange. We talk about what a health information exchange is, the concerns with Oklahoma’s legislation related to health information exchange, and how therapists can advocate effectively (as modern therapists in Oklahoma have done).


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

In this podcast episode we talk about new Oklahoma legislation

We look at “coordinated care” and the problems that could ensue if therapists are required to participate in the health information exchange.

What are health information exchanges?

”Having all of your doctors able to see everything so that they know which tests have been run and which haven’t – to me, the concept of this health information exchange is really good. I think the part that I get worried about is some of these laws in some of the states that potentially we don’t want health care information shared with i.e., gender affirming care, abortions, that kind of stuff.” – Katie Vernoy, LMFT

  • A central location for all health providers to chart to help with coordination of care
  • Psychotherapy notes are not required to be put into these systems, but diagnosis, treatment dates, and prescriptions seem to be required.
  • Patients can opt out of this information being shared, but it will still be stored in these databases

What are the concerns with the new Oklahoma legislation related to health information exchange?

  • Oklahoma is now asking to put medical information into a system regardless of whether they are on Medicaid or any other type of service as well as for folks who are paying out of pocket
  • The price tag of connecting to this system is high
  • The confusion around whether therapists are “medical providers” or not
  • Interstate practice can be impacted

What can therapists do to understand and impact legislation?

“[At] the very early stages – if you don’t want this stuff happening – you have to take an interest in the political process… It’s really easy to just kind of have our eyes glaze over when it comes to, oh, here’s a health care bill that deals with publicly funded things. If I’m in private practice, that doesn’t apply to me. But as we see with what’s happening in Oklahoma here over the last couple of months – is a bureaucratic level agency can (and who’s empowered to) make rules of implementation {which] can wildly swing how this [legislation] happens.” – Curt Widhalm, LMFT

  • Acknowledge that we’re healthcare providers to stay aware of responsibilities
  • Watching legislation that is relevant
  • Being involved in your professional organization or member benefit organization, so you know that there is someone watching for these types of legislation and prepped for advocacy
  • Advocacy and activism within these orgs as well as individual and small group advocacy
  • Understanding the concerns related to lack of privacy for clients
  • All 50 states have a health information exchange, so all clinicians need to pay attention
  • Paying attention from the bill writing process all the way through implementation
  • Going to public meetings to provide feedback on implementation
  • Donate to your professional association’s Political Action Committees

Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Oklahoma Providers for Privacy

Keeping Oklahomans’ Mental Health Records Confidential

Lawmaker says concerns about Oklahoma health information exchange ‘unfounded’

State board approves health information exchange rules despite pushback


Our Linktree:


Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

What Goes in Your Notes (About Abortion and Gender Affirming Care)?

The January 2022 Surprise of Good Faith Estimates

Is the Counseling Compact Good For Therapists?

Joining Your Association

Let’s Get Political: An interview with Heather Walker Janz, LMFT

Now Modern Therapists Have to Document Every F-ing Thing?

Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).

… 0:00
(Opening Advertisement)

Announcer 0:00
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:15
Welcome back modern therapists, this is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about the things that go on in our world, the things that affect our businesses, the things that affect our profession. And sooner or later, we were going to get to this very OK episode. And I promised those are the only Oklahoma based puns that I am intentionally putting into this episode. But…

Katie Vernoy 0:44

Curt Widhalm 0:45
We are talking about some interesting stuff that’s going on in Oklahoma right now that has the potential to expand to other states. And admittedly, at the time of recording of this, we’re in the midst of witnessing some process changes. So by the time that this episode airs, we may reserve the right to tack on something at the end of the episode that’s just like, here’s…

Katie Vernoy 0:47
And that’s what happened.

Curt Widhalm 0:56
…here’s what happened. So we’re talking about this in the midst of a number of changes here. Some great advocacy work being done by mental health care professionals in Oklahoma. But this starts out with something that went into legislation that was signed into law last year about Oklahoma’s information health care exchange, and its work with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. And this was done through Senate Bill 1369 in 2022. This created the Office of the State Coordinator for Health Information Exchange, and created the concept of a state designated entity for health information exchange operations. This requires that all health care providers participate in the statewide health information exchange by July 1st 2023. And was intentionally by my understanding of this, written with the intention of providing more coordinated care between health care providers, specifically for those people using things like their version of Medicare called SoonerCare. And making it to where it was easier to coordinate care between different providers having access within one location of the client’s health care information.

Katie Vernoy 2:36
I like the idea of having that coordinated care. I think to me, when I was on a in a health plan that did that it was so helpful for me because as most people know, I have a lot of different medical conditions, I was seeing so many different specialists. I think there’s a lot of good intention behind being able to have all your meds lined up in one place, and not just whether or not you go to the same pharmacy. You know, having all of your doctors able to see everything so that they know which tests have been run and which haven’t. To me, the concept of this health information exchange is really good. I think the part that I get worried about is some of these laws in some of the states that potentially we don’t want health care information shared with i.e. gender affirming care, abortions, that kind of stuff, we have an episode on that, we’ll put that a link to that in the show notes. But to me, I feel like, if we didn’t have crappy laws, this can be a great thing. Everybody’s sharing all the information, you go to the doctor, you don’t have to fill anything out, like you just go in. And they’re like, Yeah, we know exactly what we need to do for you. And we can see the whole picture. And it’s not just this siloed piece of information that the experts or specialists have access to or your faulty memory or your faulty record keeping. So to me, I understand some of the benefits of this, but I what I was seeing in some of the Facebook groups, and even in our Facebook group, the Modern Therapist Group, there was an interchange around this about, you know, like, oh my gosh, are we going to have to upload all of our information into this thing. And so I’m glad we’re addressing this because I think that’ll be helpful.

Curt Widhalm 4:19
One of the things that the legislation did put in is, psychotherapy records do not have to be uploaded, but everything else is going to be done in a HIPAA compliant way. And wink wink nudge nudge. Only the other providers who are working with a particular care should access this information.

Katie Vernoy 4:40
Except in an emergency…

Curt Widhalm 4:42
Except in an emergency but the legislation does not define what an emergency is at all. And therefore, you know, that information is out there. But wink wink nudge nudge only the other providers who are doing this should access that information. Now, in that other episode we talked about not all places are going to respect psychotherapy records in the same way. And specifically, if they’re saying that psychotherapy records don’t have to get uploaded, part of what has to get uploaded is kind of everything else. And…

Katie Vernoy 5:20
Does this mean like diagnosis, psychiatric medications, that kind of stuff?

Curt Widhalm 5:24

Katie Vernoy 5:25

Curt Widhalm 5:26
And that puts mental health providers and people who are seeking mental and behavioral health services into a very weird position of all of your information is potentially accessible by any of your other health care providers. Now, lawmakers say that patients can opt out of having this information shared and all that seemingly does on the back end with this system is make it to where it’s not viewable. It’s still put up there. And so that means that there’s data containment sort of concerns when it comes to this information just being put into a database. But you haven’t even gotten or haven’t let me get to the worst part of this.

Katie Vernoy 6:12
Oh, okay.

Curt Widhalm 6:12
Which is…

Katie Vernoy 6:12
Let me stop you.

Curt Widhalm 6:14
And in February, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority approved emergency revisions to the bill that was passed last May, that implementing the state run health care information database expands the mandate to include all Oklahomans, all licensed professionals providing services, regardless of insurance, or if your patients pay out of pocket for their health care.

Katie Vernoy 6:42
Ah, so people who have not necessarily even put anything into the system, because they’re paying it, people are paying out of pocket are now being asked to put medical information into a system.

Curt Widhalm 6:52
Right. So this is not just Medicare services. This is not just insurance based services. This is if you have cash pay clients, if you have clients who pay with super you even if you respond to super bills, your clients pay you in Bitcoin, you are now obligated as an all health care provider to be a part of this system. Now, the system also has a price tag of $5,000…

Katie Vernoy 7:19

Curt Widhalm 7:21
…to get set up and a yearly subscription fee after that.

Katie Vernoy 7:27
Oh, my gosh, that is ridiculous. I’m assuming that probably at some point therapists get in that murky water, are we healthcare providers or not? Is our information protected or not. But I’m thinking like small dental practices or small doctor’s offices are having to engage in this for $5,000 and a subscription fee.

Curt Widhalm 7:51
I’m not going to talk about running a dental practice, because I know minimally about that. But I would venture to guess that most mental health, Hey, I’ve got a little private practice I see a handful of clients each week as I supplement my income towards retirement is not budgeted for being able to include this.

Katie Vernoy 8:13

Curt Widhalm 8:13
A couple of just kind of points that you’re bringing up here is I’m going to put this on my therapist, pet peeve list of we kind of have a tendency to try to opt in and out of whether or not we’re healthcare providers. And this is seemingly why sometimes these kinds of bills don’t specifically end up reaching our radar until it’s kind of too late. That we don’t really I mean, people, we don’t get the benefits of being a health care provider, and only be able to opt in for like the good stuff. We also have the responsibilities of being healthcare providers, when there’s obligations to meet too.

Katie Vernoy 8:58

Curt Widhalm 8:58
But taking this, you know, kind of to a to a higher level thing is this takes the looking at the legislative process, knowing your bills that are going to potentially affect you and your business and the further implementation of them to make sure that as these changes happen, we’re not getting caught at the last minute with surprise things.

Katie Vernoy 9:23
Like the Good Faith Estimate.

Curt Widhalm 9:24
Good Faith Estimate is an example that a couple of years ago we ran into, and having attendance at really boring government meetings is really where being able to raise concerns about this kind of stuff earlier, ends up helping us to not just be like in this Chicken Little like the sky is falling thing but to make sure that when mental health care specifically needs to be written out, that that is done in the legislation process, not in the reactionary to the implementation process of things.

Katie Vernoy 10:01
The Oh crap, wait, we didn’t even know about this implementation part, right? Yeah, I think that there are good reasons to attend these boring meetings. I think there’s also this is another good reason to be involved in professional organizations, where hopefully, they’re attending the boring meetings and watching all these bills and doing the things that help to keep us aware. But that requires, and I’m talking to you, all those professional organizations, you need to communicate this kind of information to your members. Because I think there’s a lot of folks that miss stuff, if the professional organizations that are also caught without that information till the last moment as well.

Curt Widhalm 10:43
And especially how this fits within a lot of the other political landscape of things. And I’m relying pretty heavily on this episode with some information that’s put out by the Oklahoma Providers for Privacy, who are the people who have successfully done a very good campaign of contacting a lot of legislators and we are recording this on March 23rd. So this is in the midst of a lot of the response to the marches at their capitol, seemingly, as of late yesterday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board has approved rules that would exempt mental health care providers from having to exchange in this, having to be a participant in this exchange.

Katie Vernoy 11:33
So without at all like not diagnosis, not treatment plan, not medication, just nothing.

Curt Widhalm 11:40

Katie Vernoy 11:41

Curt Widhalm 11:42
So they have approved these rules. They have sent them off to the legislature in Oklahoma for approval. And while that’s seemingly a good thing, the reason that we’re not like, fully celebrating right now is Katie and I have been around long enough to see legislation written and then never just actually followed through on and I think that what I’m seeing on the Facebook page for the Oklahoma Providers for Privacy pages, they’re also having that same kind of reserved, like, it’s not done until it’s written in black and white.

Katie Vernoy 12:16
Sure, and then also, the implementation happens. I mean, I think there’s so many stages in this where being able to understand the process a little bit better, you can kind of get a sense of what is real and what is not. I mean, there was a proposed legislation that we were doing with CAMFT that completely disappeared, it became something else. There is a lot that can happen with proposed legislation where it becomes workshopped and workshoped and workshoped and even completely changed. So this is beyond that process. But I think everybody, you know, being able to understand cautious optimism and keep your eyes on the ball. Both of those those phrases apply here.

… 12:59
(Advertisement Break)

Curt Widhalm 12:59
I know we’re going to link to this other episode. But I think it’s worth highlighting some of the things that could show up in patient records that viewed by other health care providers could end up being problematic. At the top of the list is things like trans affirming care, anything LGBTQ plus could be something but it’s also things like, especially women who are victims of domestic violence could have that information shared in a public database. And these being some of the very, very most private and traumatizing events that some people could be going through, especially in the political landscape of today, could create secondary problems. And as Oklahoma currently has legislation that would put them to things like the Counselor Compact, that if there are out of state providers, who are seeing Oklahoma clients that you might also now be opting into things where it’s like, Oh, I thought I was just seeing a client. But now I have a whole host of legal responsibilities and potential costs that go just beyond why filing some paperwork with a different bureaucratic board?

Katie Vernoy 14:18
Yeah, yeah, I think it’s, it’s interesting, because I think there’s, there’s a lot of ripples from stuff like this. I think the the potential good in a nicer system, like I was talking about earlier, could be great. But I think in this in the system the way it is now, I think it really sets folks up to be very cautious about how they document, about what they put in their notes, what where they decide to practice and all of these things. I think it just is it’s a lot to take in, I guess.

Curt Widhalm 14:51
And we don’t need the further barriers of people seeking treatment if it’s going to potentially be shared with other health care providers or other people in organizations where it may affect things like getting jobs or getting promoted, such as law enforcement officers or people in the military. So this does have the potential for creating a lot of barriers here.

Katie Vernoy 15:16

Curt Widhalm 15:17
Katie, and I talk a lot about California stuff, because that’s where we both live and practice. It’s seemingly and hopefully fingers crossed a very kind of short time oriented episode when it comes to this particular Oklahoma bill. But one of the things that is pointed out in this health health information exchange factsheet from Oklahoma is that all 50 states have some sort of health information exchange that is implemented, or being implemented at some level or another. So this isn’t something where we can just be like, good job, Oklahoma people. You guys are doing great. You have our admiration and support from afar. But this also has the potential to be something that comes across in every state.

Katie Vernoy 16:09
Yeah. So maybe at this point, it might be helpful to talk a little bit about this process, because and I don’t necessarily know the answers. So we may be, we may be kind of providing some conjecture for folks to follow up on. But there’s statewide bills that get implemented. There, it’s workshopped. It gets put into, or I guess, there are presented that gets workshopped, it finally gets signed into legislation, potentially there’s emergency things that shift with it. But with Oklahoma, it sounds like folks were able to pop in early enough before the implementation to be able to to have different a different outcome that mental health providers theoretically are not going to assuming this, this goes through this change will not have to participate in this exchange. For folks in other states, how do we pay attention to this? And how do we make sure that we’re at the right place in the process to make sure that that this doesn’t happen, and it’s not a last minute, like ‘Oh my gosh!?’

Curt Widhalm 17:20
I think the for most clinicians, this is going to be working with, as you pointed out earlier, your member benefit organizations. If you’re a member of AMFT, NASW, or being involved at whatever regional levels of those things, if there is already the people who are parts of these organizations who should be involved with some of this legislation. This stuff should be being picked up earlier. I serve on the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists legislative committee, and it’s a group of members through CAMFT who we have a number of healthcare related bills that are flagged for us and we read them over and we look at, here’s how this could potentially affect mental health care workers. And when at the bill process, we bring our concerns to the organization, we are sometimes reaching out to the authors of the bills and saying, Hey, have you considered how this might affect us, because we are the ones who know how this works in the day to day, here’s the benefits or the barriers of how this could work. And depending on politics, the word smith, how that’s going to be from time to time. Once these bills end up getting introduced, then it sometimes has to go through an amendment process and that kind of stuff. But really, the very early stages is if you don’t want this stuff happening, you have to take an interest in the political process. And you have to start to go through and see what bills are being proposed each year. It’s not something that you can passively do and just wait for the news to be like, Oh, here’s this bill from such and such dat that’s kind of funny from this representative who’s trying to prove a point about hypocrisy. Frankly, I love those bills. But it’s something where we have to kind of see with a fine tooth comb of things that talk about healthcare also include us. And I think that going back to my pet peeve earlier, it’s really easy to just kind of have our eyes glaze over when it comes to, oh, here’s health care bill that deals with publicly funded things. If I’m in private practice, that doesn’t apply to me. But as we see with what’s happening in Oklahoma here over the last couple of months is a bureaucratic level agency can who’s empowered to make rules of implementation can wildly swing, how this happens. And so part of understanding not only the bill writing process, but the implementation part of the process is, oh, this is a group that has a lot of power to just all of a sudden change the way that all healthcare providers have to act. That we end up becoming at the mercy of those decisions if in the creation of the agencies or in the implementation of those agencies. And this gets to kind of the last point is, and, and what this Oklahoma group has done really well is going to public meetings and bringing up concerns about the implementation of stuff. In most states, as far as I know, every public meeting is open to public members, and they have to listen to you. And in a lot of cases, they have to provide some sort of response to you.

Katie Vernoy 20:58
When I when I hear you talk about these things, I think, yes, I’ve been involved in those things when I’ve been doing it with CAMFT. I’ve not done it myself. I know you have attended different types of meetings on your own and done some of this stuff. And I don’t know whether or not that’s accessible to everyone. I think another point that I want to make is that we are involved in a professional organization that actually has some pretty good lobbying power both in our state as well as federally. And not all not all professional associations are. And so I think, taking it a step or two backwards, I think it’s actually assessing what’s going on in your professional association, your member benefit association, however you want to describe it. Because I think in truth, if your professional association isn’t paying attention to this stuff they need to be. And there needs to be someone whose job it is to watch all these things, because there are hundreds thousands of bills that come out every year. I mean, there’s a process and I don’t know if it’s the same in every state, but it’s you know, like a whole bunch of stuff drops. And there’s like a month or two to try to look at it, sort through all of it and make have decisions about it. And so we recognize this is a big ask for individuals. But I think in really seeking out all of the benefits of your professional association, I think there are elements of this that can be highlighted. I think the other part of it is, if there is something that is not the way your profession would like it, you know that there’s a law that would require all health care providers, that includes all of us that are mental healthcare providers, you need to be able to lobby, you need to be able to be in rooms, and I think some of that requires money. So I think there’s a lot of therapists who have trouble seeing why would I donate to my professional associations political action committee. But those the federal and state political action committee and funds are what potentially get the ear of legislators that can make changes on these things. And so…

Curt Widhalm 21:55
To that point, briefly, donating a few bucks a year to that saves you $5,000 from not having to have to opt in to a information exchange, even if that’s not a part of you being involved in any kind of third party payer system.

Katie Vernoy 23:31

Curt Widhalm 23:32
That’s, that’s why you do it is…

Katie Vernoy 23:34
Yeah, that’s why you do it. And I think it’s hard because I think a lot of folks feel like they don’t have the bandwidth to do stuff outside of their therapy room. And they don’t necessarily understand all the pieces and and I think it’s important if you can take the time and the effort to understand the pieces, get involved, or if this stuff like Curt gets you excited, and you want to be involved in those types of things, I think that’s important to do. But if it’s not something that feels like you that you either have the bandwidth or the aptitude or the interest for it, then I think it’s that that element of support the people who are doing it so that they can be there to advocate for you and for others in your profession. Because I think this this type of stuff, especially with the environment the way it is, with more and more focus on mental health care at a federal level and potentially state levels, with you know, big healthcare, you know, kind of big tech disruptors coming in and undergoing scrutiny. We are going to be looked at more and we are going to be included in legislation that we may not have been included in before because we’ve argued we are healthcare providers so that we can all bill Medicare, we are healthcare providers so we can get vaccinations when they first come out. We are healthcare providers in a lot of ways. And so there are going to be things where we need to make sure that that it’s understood what role we play in that because I do agree that there’s To also this element, it is different what we do. But in truth, there are some medical things I don’t necessarily want everyone to know, either versus, you know, my mental health stuff. And as stigma goes down as therapy becomes more ubiquitous, it may not, it may not get the little star of this is sensitive material and should not be viewable, and just in the database. And so I think it’s, it’s something that we need to be paying attention more to.

… 25:28
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Curt Widhalm 25:30
And I want to emphasize your point that this is not something that you need to do on your own. This is an overwhelming and full time job for any singular person, just to go and analyze bills that…

Katie Vernoy 25:46

Curt Widhalm 25:46
So I want to emphasize your point of, if there are organizations that are already doing this kind of stuff, whether it’s time, whether it’s money, those are organizations that can devote the resources, and already usually have existing relationships with a lot of lawmakers and understand the process. Because I do see sometimes our collective online outrage being just kind of siloed into therapists Facebook groups, and not really any actual action taken out of some of these things. That these are the kinds of things that we need the action of, you know, member benefit organizations or activist organizations who act on behalf of mental health care workers to do for us. And it is, with that understanding of when stuff is written about health care, we have to ask ourselves, can this be interpreted for mental health care? If it is, what are the specific things that make us different, because, like you said, there might be stuff that you also don’t want your therapist to know that’s going on in your medical side of things. You might not be ready to process and talk about those things yet. So this is, you know, not just that, we get to have our dark secret offices that are hidden away from everybody else. But as far as client processes go, they may not be ready to talk about things that would be potentially accessible even to their therapists on this kind of stuff.

Katie Vernoy 27:23
Yeah, I think it’s it’s something where when we see the implementation of how this really plays out, and if we’re excluded from including information, or we also excluded from viewing the information. I don’t know, you know, I think there’s there’s a lot of details that may need to be worked out. And I think it’s something where, when we understand what this is going to actually look like as it rolls out across different states, I think we start to look at not just the laws, but also the ethics and the clinical implement implications of what we’re what we’re what the new landscape is. I think we we can talk about this. OK, law that’s coming sooner or later. But I think there’s also stuff like Medicare that’s going to be rolled out next year and how that looks. And I think there’s going to, you know, as with the masters level clinicians, the counselors and the MFTs, being able to bill Medicare, what is that going to look like? What does that actually mean? And the Good Faith Estimate and the No Surprises Act, that continues to be a very confusing thing to me. So I think, when we start to really see how things are getting rolled out what actually the final legislation looks like, the final rules are, you know, to be continued, I guess, because there’s a lot more things, but I think we, when we know what’s available, we can identify how we’re going to access and interact with it. But I completely agree. I mean, I think there’s stuff that I probably don’t want my therapist to know or may not want her to know, at different times. And I think as therapists we can, we can navigate that pretty well. But my general practitioner may feel like they have, they are entitled to know all the stuff. And potentially as a matter of course, they’re going to look at everything. And and as I’m sure anybody with some sort of mental health concern has identified the minute you say, Oh, well, I have a little depression, or oh, I have a little anxiety. All things get framed from that. And medical testing stops. So so so I think there’s there’s the clinical implications over time that I think we’re gonna want to pay attention to. But right now, I think for this purposes, for these purposes, I think it makes sense to really focus in on advocacy, because I think, for us until it gets implemented, we really can’t start making our own adjustments to it because there’s still stuff that could change and certainly, this is just for Oklahoma, but I think there’s there’s going to be similar things that happen across the United States in all different states, if this is something that is seen as either a mechanism to really provide positive collaboration between all of the medical providers in somebody’s life, or on the other end, a way to start catching all these people that are breaking the law related to gender affirming care, abortions, that kind of stuff. And so I can see it becoming something that we really need to keep our eyes on, because some people just apparently want our information.

Curt Widhalm 30:32
So I’m going to point to a couple of things, bringing us back to the Oklahoma thing. These are from a couple of different articles on And one quotes, Representative Marcus McIntyre, who said that “Some providers are letting their emotions and not the facts guide their judgment.” The this is a quote, “They need to stop, take a deep breath and read the rules and read the law. And they will see that their fears and complaints are unfounded.” End quote. And this is maybe sometimes just kind of what I’ve seen as being kind of the response that justifies people who may not know the practice of what we do. Of just being like, no, no, your your concerns sound emotional. The implementation of this isn’t isn’t so bad. But in another article we’ll include both of these in our show notes over at The board member for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Tanya Case, has been involved in these discussions since 2008, about creating a statewide exchange, says that for mental health care providers to pull information out, quote, “Pulling out a piece of your medical care, that’s not really doing the right thing, in my opinion, to me, it’s one body one mind,” end quote. And in response to this, some of the providers are pointing out that, and the rules that are being pointed to here is that patients can opt out of having their information shared in the exchange, it’s just that they have to do that with every single one of their providers. It’s not a global, I opt out of this. It’s a, I go to this provider, I don’t want you putting information up there, I go to another provider, I don’t want you putting this information up there. So it becomes burdensome on the patients to truly opt out. But each of those providers still has to put the client’s name on the exchange with this, they’ve opted out of having their information put up there.

Katie Vernoy 32:41
Yeah, so it says, I saw this mental health provider and I don’t want you to share my information.

Curt Widhalm 32:48
Now, if you are a modern therapist, who has done a great job of going through all of our catalogue and following every piece of advice that we’ve given, and you have branded yourself with a highly sensitive population, even just you putting a client’s name on the exchange potentially outs them for the services that they are seeking. If you are Katie Vernoy domestic abuse survivors, therapists.

Katie Vernoy 33:19

Curt Widhalm 33:19
This is potentially, you know, if somebody’s accessing, Oh, I see that they saw Katie, and I know that Katie practices this, I can now make these assumptions. This is some of the major ethical concerns that are being overseen by the just follow the rules people.

Katie Vernoy 33:36
Yeah, yeah. So what are our takeaways because we’re at the end of our time, so I…

Curt Widhalm 33:45
Take aways, advocacy works.

Katie Vernoy 33:47
Advocacy works. Advocacy can be in a lot of different ways. And I’ll add a little bit here. There’s personal advocacy, it’s following and understanding and potentially getting on the streets and doing a protest or, or, you know, shooting an email or talking to your legislator, but it also can be more organized with a professional association or a benefits association where you can join in their efforts and advocacy. You can make sure that they are actually doing these things and paying attention to these laws, by you know, kind of directing your membership dollars to those that do. And I think there’s that that element of making sure that as things are going through that you figure out what the final final thing is, and understand the implications of it. And then as I said before, we’ll talk about how do we ethically and clinically, deal with some of this stuff if it starts coming down the pipe.

Curt Widhalm 34:45
And it’s not over until it’s over. Just because something is said doesn’t mean that it’s getting done. And this is the follow through aspect of it. So, again, a very huge shout out to the Oklahoma Providers for Privacy, they are doing some great work and continuing to do some great work around this. And all of your member benefit organizations, get involved with them. Throw a few bucks their way just to make advocacy happen. Find our show notes over at Follow us on our social media, put stuff in our Facebook group like this, so we can talk about it earlier. That’s the Modern Therapists Facebook group. And if you want to support us so that way we can continue bringing this information up, hopefully in very timely ways please consider becoming a patron or supporting us through Buy me a Coffee or supporting us in any of the other activities that we do. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy.

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