Tiger Team: Data segmentation recommendations to come in June

The Tiger Team workgroup will make recommendations geared toward protecting sensitive patient data in electronic health records--including behavioral health and substance abuse information--to the ONC's Health IT Policy Committee next month, a workgroup leader said this week.

The recommendations could play a factor in whether technical capabilities developed as part of the Data Segmentation for Privacy (DS4P) initiative--launched by ONC in October 2011--are included in Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use incentive program. Last fall the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a solicitation for a contractor to make recommendations regarding which behavioral and social data should be part of Stage 3.

At the Tiger Team's meeting on Tuesday, chair Deven McGraw (pictured right)--a partner with healthcare law practice Manatt, Phelps & Phillips--shared the workgroup's tentative conclusions on the DS4P, HealthcareInfoSecurity reported. The initiative spurred the creation of standards for exchanging sensitive health information, but also forces parties involved to use DS4P technology to share that information.

While not perfect, McGraw said, the workgroup thought of DS4P as a good starting point for such efforts. The team also believes that provider/patient education, particularly as it pertains to confidentiality issues with data that could be exchanged, is vital, she said.

"This is important because a large segment of the patient population has medical information that is sensitive, and state and federal laws often give extra protection to the handling of that information," ONC Chief Privacy Officer Joy Pritts said, according to HealthcareInfoSecurity.

A report published last month by the Institute of Medicine called for social and behavioral information to be included in EHRs. A 13-member committee compiled a proposed list of 17 social and behavioral "domains" to be included as a guide for federal officials developing criteria for Meaningful Use Stage 3.

To learn more:
- read the HealthcareInfoSecurity article