eWeek: National Health Information Network Must Protect Privacy

An article in eWeek on Monday examined privacy concerns associated with a national health information network and possible solutions. Supporters of a national network say that such a system would prevent errors and reduce duplication, but patient advocates are concerned about third-party organizations, such as employers and health insurers, having greater access to patient information.

Robert Seliger, CEO of identity management company Sentillion, said an information network should include features that would verify the identities of both the patient and the user before providing access to personal information, eWeek reports. The system could provide the patients with more information about who is accessing their record. Seliger said the technology also could enable patients to decide who could see what information and to alert them when their information is accessed.

Technology such as Digital Rights Management, which is used in the entertainment industry to protect copyrighted work, also could help ensure patient privacy, said Dixie Baker, group vice president of technology and chief technology officer for the health and life sciences practice at Science Applications International Corp. "A DRM policy applied to an electronic health record might enable an insurance company to view those portions of the record necessary for coverage authorization purposes, but not allow the record to be saved on the company's server," Baker said.

A national health information network also must "protect against discriminatory practices and unlawful use and access to information," said Don Mon, vice president of industry relations at the American Health Information Management Association, eWeek reports (Baker, eWeek, 2/7).

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