NYU medical students are exposed to de-identified information so they can learn how to analyze data and come up with hypothetical treatments for patients before they hit hospital floors. They also generally follow two to three specific patients at any point during rotations, but they can't continue to monitor patients and see how their treatments play out over time.
Dr. Fritz Francois, NYU Langone Medical Center's chief medical officer, would like to see New York University School of Medicine use more real-time data to better prepare students for the real world of population health management they're about to enter.
HIPAA, the law the federal government uses to police the privacy and security of the nation's health information, is standing in the way, he said.
That law—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—is turning 20, and some people may wonder if it's up to the job in 2016 and beyond.
The frustration Francois expressed illustrates one of the many conundrums posed by HIPAA and its regulations in an age when the healthcare industry is counting on the free flow of data to revolutionize how care is delivered and paid for.
President Bill Clinton signed the law Aug. 21, 1996—around the same time the World Wide Web and email were starting to take hold in American life. HHS and Congress have worked to transform and update the law—initially created to make it easier for Americans to keep health insurance coverage. In the decades since it was enacted, electronic health records have eclipsed paper, and health information is being collected and transmitted in ways the law doesn't reach.