Groups Weigh In on Boosting Health Data Access, Protecting Privacy
August 13, 2014 in News
This week, three health care organizations sent letters to leaders of the Senate Finance Committee with recommendations on ways to increase access to health data, while ensuring patient privacy.
The letters came in response to a June request from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) seeking ideas “to enhance the availability and utility of health care data” while protecting patient privacy from 200 health care industry individuals and groups. Tuesday was the deadline for responses to the senators’ query (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 8/12).
American Hospital Association Letter Details
In a letter to the senators, American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Rick Pollack called for greater transparency of health-related data. Specifically, AHA urged Congress to instruct CMS to release certain data on:
- Inpatient hospital discharges;
- Medicare Advantage enrollees;
- Medicare Part B carriers; and
- Medicare Part D prescription drugs.
Pollack also emphasized the importance in maintaining patient privacy while working to expand access (AHA News, 8/12). He wrote, “As we move toward greater transparency, it is important that we balance the benefits of making that data broadly available against the need to ensure the privacy and security of individual patient data” (AHA letter, 8/12).
Behavioral Health Information Technology Coalition Letter Details
Meanwhile, the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coalition in a letter to Grassley and Wyden urged Congress to set 2017 as the deadline for all electronic health records to become interoperable, Politico‘s “Morning eHealth,” reports.
In addition the coalition urged Congress to expand meaningful use to include mental health providers, such as:
- Community mental health centers;
- Practicing psychologists;
- Psychiatric hospitals; and
- Outpatient and inpatient addiction providers.
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 8/13).
HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association Letter Details
In its letter, HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association — which represents about 40 EHR vendors — argued that, when appropriate, health data from various sources should be made available, including information captured and generated data from:
- Personal health records;
- Mobile and wearable medical devices; and
- Websites (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 8/13).
However, the group said patients generally should determine how their data are used and who can access it, noting that there should be different methods of consent when it comes to sharing data for:
- Operational efficiency;
- Patient use;
- Public health; and
- Research (Modern Healthcare, 8/12).
The group also called for “a consistent nationwide patient data matching strategy” to ensure patients’ health care data are accurate across different systems and care settings (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 8/13).