Health information laws made clear on new GWU website

May 26, 2012 in Medical Technology

WASHINGTON – A new website, which clarifies federal and state laws pertaining to health information, developed by researchers at The George Washington University’s Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program, launched Wednesday.

The website, Health Information and the Law (, serves as an online resource where organizations, consumers and healthcare providers alike can find a clear, comprehensible picture of current health information laws, policy changes and legislation.

[See also: RWJF launches new site with quality info on doctors, hospitals], a Legal Barriers project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offers a lucid list and comparative analysis of regulations and laws relating to health information exchange, the shift to EMRs, confidentiality, HITECH, the ACA and HIPAA, to name a few.

“The laws are very opaque to a lot of people and difficult to navigate, and we wanted to create a resource that would translate laws themselves and complicated issues for people on the ground who are trying navigate them,” says Lara Cartwright-Smith, co-director of the Legal Barriers project and assistant research professor in the GW Department of Health Policy.

The project has “a multi-aim,” says Jane Hyatt Thorpe, also a co-director of the Legal Barriers project and associate research professor at the GW Department of Health Policy. “We’re hoping to help the activities going on at the local, regional and state level in terms of community organizations and other organizations working to transform care delivery.”

[See also: HIE on the upswing]

Cartwright-Smith adds, “We don’t want to limit the audience.” The audience may consist of “policymakers; it might be individual providers, consumers or organizations trying to implement health reforms and need to know the laws pertaining to them.”

Sara Rosenbaum, Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at GWU School of Public Health and Health Services explained in a news release why the website is so significant today:

“Health information law exists at the intersection of many crucial and related fields: law, healthcare, public health, market competition, consumer protection, information technology, and health insurance.” she said. “A modest change in any of these fields can trigger a daunting set of issues and challenges. offers keys to understanding the laws that govern health information and their implications for health care, consumer rights and population health.” 

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