Report calls for more DoD research on patient consent, identity matching

A new report from the Rand Corp. urges much more research and pilot projects at scale to determine the optimal approaches for ensuring patient privacy in information exchange by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Patient consent for participation in health information exchange and identity matching pose unique challenges.  As service members leave the military, the DoD needs to exchange health data not only with the Department of Veterans Affairs, but also with myriad private practitioners. 

The report suggests that DoD follow the VA's lead in developing a patient consent management system for non-active duty beneficiaries.

The DoD and VA are still working on developing interoperable EHR systems, though Defense is looking at commercial alternatives in addition to the VA's VistA system. And the VA has developed the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER), designed for secure information sharing that will follow a veteran for the rest of his or her life.

Centralized records of patient consent for exchanging personal health information (PHI) free individual providers from having to store that data. However, if the patient puts restrictions on sharing some data--say treatment for substance abuse--the system of storage and access must be capable of filtering the data accordingly or else that must be done manually, the report points out. It calls for research on using automated text processing to redact restricted information, particularly in unstructured data such as doctor's notes.

To learn more:
- here's the report