Pediatrics Group: EHRs Should Better Protect Privacy of Adolescents

TOPIC ALERT:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement calling for modifications to electronic health record systems to better protect the privacy of adolescent patients, FierceEMR reports.

Challenges to Protecting Adolescent Privacy in EHR Systems

The policy statement notes that some of the factors hindering stronger privacy protections for adolescent health data in EHR systems include:

  • A lack of guidance on adolescent privacy from HIPAA;
  • Limited ability of EHR systems to filter or segment certain data;
  • Lack of standards on which adults can access an adolescent's health records; and
  • State-by-state variation in standards for protecting adolescent medical privacy.

AAP wrote, "Continued lack of privacy protection in EHRs risks diminishing adolescent access to care, potentially resulting in higher adolescent pregnancy and [sexually transmitted infection] rates, and unraveling significant gains that have been achieved."

Recommendations

In its policy statement, AAP recommended that policymakers and stakeholders:

  • Develop standards for EHR systems to protect adolescent privacy;
  • Create EHR technology that allows adolescents to document consent for care, treatment and the release of protected health data;
  • Incorporate flexibility into EHR standards to protect the release of certain sensitive data like test results, prescriptions and diagnoses;
  • Build EHR systems that can identify and prevent certain confidential data from being exchanged among health care providers;
  • Develop medical billing systems that can suppress sensitive health data provided by an EHR system (Bird, FierceEMR, 11/5).

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