Monday, June 30, 2008

Privacy, Electronic Health Records, and Consensus

Electronic medical records. Electronic health records. Personal health records. It doesn't matter whether you refer to them as EMRs, EHRs, or PHRs, the concept is still basically the same. Since the subject is one near and dear to us here at the Health Care Reform Now! Blog, it should come as no surprise to you that we are very excited about the best practices standards released last Wednesday by the Markle Foundation.

In an attempt to bring some of the spirit of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to the digital arena, Markle has debuted their standards with some heavy hitters backing it. Google, Microsoft, Intuit, WebMD, Aetna, the AMA, and others have all stepped up to the plate on this one in an attempt to create a true set of industry standards and policies.

Research shows that more than half of modern Americans are interested in the advantages of having easily accessible online records. It also shows that one of the greatest barriers on the consumer level is fear of privacy issues. With a large segment of both the major and minor players in health care already on board at the time of announcement we could be well on our way to making it a non-issue.

Marianne Kobalsuk McGee over at Information Week took note of another vitally important aspect of this announcement:

Meanwhile, for other companies looking to jump on to the consumer personal health record bandwagon, the framework has been assembled early enough in this emerging market so they too can develop their products and services with the framework's privacy policies and practices in mind, Diamond said.
I have the distinct feeling that this is going to have repercussions across the industry. It seems that progress is being made. Now to keep an eye on the implementation of these standards...

SOURCE: "Google, Microsoft Back Online Health Records Privacy Framework" 06/26/08
photo courtesy of dominiekth, used under its Creative Commons license

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