Thursday, April 17, 2008

Warning on Storage of Health Records. The New York Times Comments on Article from The New England Journal of Medicine

Published: April 17, 2008

In an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, two leading researchers warn that the entry of big companies like Microsoft and Google into the field of personal health records could drastically alter the practice of clinical research and raise new challenges to the privacy of patient records.

The authors, Dr. Kenneth D. Mandl and Dr. Isaac S. Kohane, are longtime proponents of the benefits of electronic patient records to improve care and help individuals make smarter health decisions.

But their concern, stated in the article published Wednesday and in an interview, is that the medical profession and policy makers have not begun to grapple with the implications of companies like Microsoft and Google becoming the hosts for vast stores of patient information.

The arrival of these new corporate entrants, the authors write, promises to bring “a seismic change” in the control and stewardship of patient information.

Today, most patient records remain within the health system — in doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, health maintenance organizations and pharmacy networks. Federal regulations govern how personal information can be shared among health institutions and insurers, and the rules restrict how such information can be mined for medical research. One requirement is that researchers have no access to individual patients’ identities.

For the full article click on the title of this blog entry.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I was struck as read the piece in the NYT that they didn't discuss more fully the 1974 Privacy Act with regards to the commercial health data storage issue. HIPAA is not the only guidance.