In its new policy paper, Health Information Technology & Privacy (PDF), the American College of Physicians focused on safeguards needed for the reuse of patients' personal medical data while it also promoted an environment where health IT can be used to share this data to improve healthcare quality.
ACP urges privacy safeguards for patient data
The policy statement updates one the ACP issued two years ago, and it was released in the context of U.S. healthcare moving “from paper to an electronic world,” as well as in the middle of the bureaucratic process involved with HHS moving toward changing its 20-year-old rules protecting people participating in clinical research. Until Oct. 26, HHS will be taking comments in advance of rule changes, and it is specifically asking for feedback on data collection, data security and updating informed consent processes.
“While coming changes did not prompt this paper, its production and release are turning out to be quite timely,” said ACP President Dr. Virginia Hood in a news release.
In the paper, the ACP noted that “Patients will only give full and accurate information if they are comfortable that this information will not be shared inappropriately,” and that “The interests of doctor and patient are closely aligned. Both will benefit to the extent that further disclosure of patient-supplied information is prevented.”
It also said that the “ACP believes that under a revised privacy rule, permitted activities not requiring consent should include well-defined socially valuable activities involving public health reporting, population health management, quality measurement, education, and certain types of clinical research,” and that the sale of individually identifiable health information without the patient's permission should be forbidden.
It's mentioned how attempts to place “new and cumbersome burdens on providers” moving from paper to electronic records can have negative consequences and slow the advance of health IT adoption.
“We need to resist the temptation to reproduce the inadequacies of our existing paper-based systems for the sake of expediency or to avoid complexities that can be overcome by good debate and sound policies,” the paper concluded.
The Philadelphia-based ACP has some 132,000 internal medicine physician and medical student members. It is the largest medical specialty society and the second-largest U.S. physician organization behind the American Medical Association.
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