ONC seeks opinions, concerns on mobile health security

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is digging deep to determine the public's appetite for mobile health technology, and their concerns about mobile security, according to a recently released Federal Register notice.

Regulators will collect information from more than 40,000 consumers and health providers across the U.S. through a series of focus groups, web campaigns and other media, and use the information to guide its own implementation of mHealth initiatives, according to Government Health IT. Regulators estimate they'll hold more than a week's worth of focus group meetings--roughly 15-plus hours--to gauge the public's views.

The two-year project, mandated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, also will include a promotional campaign to educate the public about the need for online and mobile-enabled healthcare records, according to the Federal Register.

The mobile "environment...poses new challenges for protecting health information, including methods for individuals to engage with their healthcare providers and affect how their health information may be exchanged," regulators stated in the notice.

The mobile project is dwarfed, however, by a concurrent survey ONC announced on consumer opinions about the general safety of online/electronic health records. The five-year study will survey 2,000 consumers annually, and aggregate the data for trending and analysis. It will be interesting to see how the data overlaps.

One note: ONC is taking comments on the proposal, so hospital execs who don't like the way the surveys are handled, or have concerns how the information will be collected, must tell regulators so by Jan. 3, 2012.

To learn more:
- read the Federal Register notice
- check out Government Health IT's article