Protect your medical records

March 18, 2012 by  

The main purpose of the latest Electronic Medical Records bill – signed into law this year – was to include electronic prescribing as an acceptable method for prescribing controlled substances as long as they follow all the DEA rules and regs.

That’s good.  Federal ARRA legislation (the loathsome “stimulus” bill)  rewards doctors for e-prescribing, expecting fewer medical errors and better use of up-to-date patient records will result in fewer diagnostics, better care and lower health care costs.  This is a great goal.   The jury is still out as to whether it will do these things, but it’s likely to improve patient care….as long as patients’ consent and privacy rights and information are protected in these systems. 

Therein lies the continuing challenge.  On that score, the bill had several potential pitfalls which were addressed before advancing out of the Senate Health Committee:

  • First, the bill had removed patient consent for dumping Advanced Directive data  from the Secretary of State’s registry into an HIO (Health Information Organization).  Secretary Ken Bennett wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, either, as the state’s privacy policy doesn’t allow personal information to be shared with a 3rd party without it.  See p.2 of the policy here.
  • Patient advocates also recommended adding a stronger definition to de-identified information and a prohibition and penalty for re-identifying such information – because both re-identifying patient information and security system breaches remain very real threats within HIO systems.

As legislators in Arizona, we are blessed to have “go-to” experts here locally and abroad to help wade through these incredibly important technical issues so that we don’t compromise fundamental patient privacy or create dreaded unintended consequences.

Many thanks to bill sponsor Rep. Heather Carter, Melissa Rutala from AzHEC (Arizona Healthy Connection), associate professor Dr. Marilyn Prosch, who helped to create one of the world’s first data-privacy research labs – the Privacy by Design Research Lab at the W. P. Carey School of Business at A.S.U.,  Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian and many others for their cooperation on this EMR bill.

To better protect yourself online read Dr. Marilyn Prosch’s: Professor Shares Top 10 Tips for Protecting Online Personal Information.

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