Mind to Market

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Consumer Choice Hearing

Last Tuesday the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) hosted the Consumer Choice Technology Hearing and made the audio and slide presentations available live via webconference. To those that may be unnerved by the idea of their medical records floating around the Internet, this hearing spotlighted the technologies that are intended to put, for the first time, the patient firmly in control of their own information. The hearing first covered those technologies that are currently in use and then moved on to what we may expect in the future.

Most patients are familiar with the consent forms they fill out when admitted to a hospital. These have traditionally been paper based forms that are kept on file with the healthcare provider and give broad authorization to disclose or conceal healthcare information based on disease, recipient, purpose of use and time period among others. In their paper form, these forms offer the patient little detail, are difficult for the provider to manage and can’t be exchanged between providers.

Modern electronic health record systems (EHR-S) allow for and even encourage the use of electronic consent directives, directives patients have complete access to, can be written and updated as required and can be supplied to healthcare providers as needed. Electronic consent directives can be very specific in terms of details as to who can access the patient’s healthcare information and what information they are allowed to access. This is not to say that the patient’s preferences will always be honored; in certain cases the patient’s health may override the patient’s privacy preferences, but the patient will have the opportunity to express their preferences.

Imagine filling out your privacy preferences online, in one place, then giving your healthcare provider the location to that stored copy. The healthcare provider accesses your preferences whenever your consent is needed thereby using your latest preferences instead of using your preferences from last year. And, if you cross the street to another hospital, you can simply give them the same location of your consent directive and they can follow the same procedure; no new paper form need be filled out for the umpteenth time.

There were several presentations of future consumer choice technologies at the hearing, each with a different twist to the above scenario but all with the concept of the patient taking greater ownership of their own data. There are technical hurdles that must still be addressed, some quite daunting, but overall the feeling was that the privacy and security of health information would not slow the deployment of the National Health Information Network (NHIN).

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  • I think people are getting more concerned about privacy as more and more companies such as Facebook show remarkable disregard for privacy. So it would definitely take more people in the know, such as yourself!, to educate people and design systems where people know/feel they are in control. Along that direction, this is a good post!

    By Blogger Vijay, At 4:03 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Vijay, At 4:03 PM  

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