Health IT advisors: Protecting teens' health data privacy a complex challenge

The Privacy and Security Tiger Team will tackle data security and privacy complexities involving minors' electronic records at its next meeting on July 14, reports HealthcareInfoSecurity.

One of the problems involves laws that vary from state to state allowing minors to obtain certain health services--such as reproductive health services or substance-abuse treatment--without the consent of parents. Disclosing such information to parents could be a HIPAA violation, privacy attorney Adam Greene, a partner at law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, pointed out previously.

For providers that offer patient portals, the issue is how to segregate that information from the rest of a minor's record. Some providers are finding that too difficult and are strictly limiting access to minors' data, according to Micky Tripathi, co-chair of the Tiger Team.

Other issues include:

  • How payers can process claims for those health services yet protect that information in an explanation of benefits statement
  • How to protect the health information of adult children who remain on their parents' insurance to age 26
  • How can providers give access to one parent in the case of a divorce, but not the other, depending on the custody arrangement

The Tiger Team also might discuss whether portals should automatically shut off parent access once a child turns 18.

A study of teens ages 13 to 18 in a California juvenile detention center found them to be overwhelmingly interested in being able to access their health records online. While the vast majority were willing to share their records with physicians, only half were willing to share them with parents.

To learn more:
- read the article
- here's more info on the July 14 meeting