New concerns on PHR security

In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, two researchers express concerns about the privacy of health information after the entrance of Microsoft and Google into the Personal Health Record space.

The authors apparently hope to begin a dialogue on the implications of private organizations like Microsoft and Google as stewards of such large volumes of patient data.  Fueling these concerns is the lower burdens that they perceive such organizations would carry to protect this information. And, they suggest these organizations would not be required to follow privacy regulations, such as HIPAA.

I’m inclined to disagree with some of the premises on which they base their concerns.  While I’m not a lawyer, these aggregators of data seem to fit HIPAA’s definition of a clearinghouse.  Regardless, in order for provider organizations to pass data to such a repository, these organizations would need to execute Business Associates Agreements with those providers which would bind them to follow the basic principles of the law.

So far, the initiatives from both Google and Microsoft are putting the onus of control on the consumer, where it belongs.  The biggest challenge to success under such a model is providing health consumers with the information to understand the implications of the information-sharing decisions they make.

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Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

One thought on “New concerns on PHR security

  1. Pingback: Google, PHRs, and Leading by Example « Geovoices: A Geonetric blog

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