How to tackle privacy, security challenges of a national HIE

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Creating a national health information exchange will require building a workable framework for privacy and security, then training those who work with the data in a way similar to that of a multinational corporation that deals with sensitive information, Valita Fredland, the new privacy officer of the Indiana Health Information Exchange, says in an interview.

One of the biggest challenges for organizations using big data to build profiles and predictive models is ensuring they understand the regulations and restrictions on each of the data elements, she tells

The patchwork of state and federal laws, as well as restrictions on sharing different types of data, such as teens’ information, mental health and substance abuse data, can seem to prohibit efficient data-exchange, she notes.

However, Fredland says she's "of the belief that this is not a major stumbling block. I believe these are challenges we can certainly solve from a privacy and security perspective. I know technologically we are able to exchange the data, so I think it's a matter of time before we can sit down and create an interoperability framework for multiple types of health information data repositories."

She adds it’s also important to remember that some organizations use third-party data hosting providers that use international data centers, so the data also might fall under other jurisdictions. The European Union, for instance, has just enacted new privacy protections for data hosted there.

“It's important for privacy and security professionals ... to at least be aware that data, whether used only stateside, or internationally, may fall under the jurisdictions of other international locations as it travels," she says.

Creating information highways that connect across state lines has been one of the priorities of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT this year, which is focused on ensuring health information exchanges, as well as private-sector exchanges, are interoperable across the country within a year.

To learn more:
- listen to the interview