Patient Privacy – A Reality

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January 30, 2009

I have always respected privacy of an individual. Recently, my respect towards patient privacy and consent has drawn concerns in my mind on the current state of health care.

The privacy of an ordinary person is as important as the one of a celebrity or the CEO of a major public company. Recently “Shares of Apple Inc. fell on account of health concerns about their CEO – Steve Jobs“. This news, caused a trickle down effect where the company’s shares took a hit and fell 5.7%. Causing the market to react to a negative imbalance.

The effects of denial to medical privacy include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Job Loss
  2. Discrimination
  3. Credit Denial
  4. Fear
  5. Loss for Stakeholders

CHCF Consumer Privacy Health Survey (2005) shows that 67% of Americans are concerned about the privacy of their personal medical records.

In my opinion patient privacy is the most important factor for a patient-doctor relationship. To protect the same we must:

  1. Invest in technologies which build a secure environment to protect patient data
  2. Educate the team on HIPAA and patient privacy
  3. Obtain Consent while using/sharing patient data
  4. Authenticate the receiver/observer of patient data
  5. Limit secondary use of patient data
  6. Observe strict policies while storing patient data
  7. Define rules for non-tolerance
  8. Mandate compliance with security practices
  9. Define framework for Data integrity, Safeguards and Accountability
  10. Follow standards and certifications to maintain sanity levels in protecting patient privacy

The economic stimulus bill in the Obama Administration (244 188) includes $20 billion to promote health IT. This bill includes:

  1. A ban on sale of protected health information in electronic medical records and limitations on marketing
  2. Audit trails of all electronic health record transactions, encryption requirements, and rights to electronic copies of our records
  3. Requires the Secretary to revisit and narrow the definition of “health care operations”
  4. Improved enforcement provisions such as breach notification, required periodic audits, state attorneys general enforcement, a compensation scheme for privacy victims and applying security and privacy provisions and penalties to business associates
  5. Ensuring taxpayer dollars go only to funding systems that are capable of segmenting specific and sensitive information
  6. Funding for consumer advocacy groups and not for profit entities to participate in the regulatory process.

– derived from Newsletter: Privacy in the Stimulus?, Dated: Jan 29, 2009

This bill if passed by the Senate will ensure consumers interest ahead of industry profits. With proper technological utilization, policy definition and process implementation the Patient Privacy can now become a reality.

I vote for Patient Privacy! Do you?

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