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HIT Privacy, Security Guidelines for Feds Released

Dom Nicastro, for HealthLeaders Media, December 14, 2010

President Obama's Health Information Technology (HIT) advisors are calling  upon federal regulators to create a "universal language exchange" where healthcare data can be exchanged efficiently and with enhanced privacy and security controls.

The advisors made their recommendations in a report released last week, "Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward."

The advisors' foresee a healthcare industry of electronic health records that:

  • Modernizes diagnosis and treatment
  • Improves public health
  • Enhances the privacy and security of personal data
  • Creates new high-technology markets and jobs while catalyzing healthcare-related economic reforms

"The United States spends more on healthcare as a fraction of gross domestic product than any other industrialized nation, yet we lag on critical measures such as life expectancy and infant mortality," said Eric Lander, co-chair of the group of advisors, called the "President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology" (PCAST), in a statement. "Information technology has the potential to vastly improve patient care and create new markets based on health care innovation—but only if we make wise decisions now. This report outlines a path to achieving these aims."

The advisors made several recommendations to the government agencies involved with HIT and privacy and security, including:

The Chief Technology Officer should:

  • Develop within 12 months a set of metrics that measure progress toward operational, university, national healthy IT infrastructure
  • Annually assess the nation's progress in health IT by the metrics developer, and make recommendations to how to make more rapid progress