HHS group wants stronger health data protections

A group advising HHS has recommended that the healthcare industry develop stronger privacy protections for digital health records--standards which should stand on their own two feet, rather than being built around HIPAA rules. The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics is recommending that health privacy policies undergo a "transformation,"  under which groups focus on appropriate data use for all consumers whether the particular organization is a HIPAA-covered entity or not. This addresses the concerns of some high-profile privacy groups, who have noted that PHR data, in particular, would often be handled by groups who aren't "covered entities" under HIPAA and have no legal requirement to protect patient privacy.

Committee members, who made 20 specific recommendations to HHS, noted that some of the biggest problems occur when data is used for purposes other than clinical care. Such 'secondary uses' should be monitored carefully, committee members said, or patients may avoid treatment out of fear that their records may be inappropriately shared.

To learn more about the committee's findings:
- read this Government Health IT piece
- read the committee's report (.pdf)

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