Obama health care plan said to boost security, privacy controls
Privacy advocates say $20B e-health proposal overcomes some HIPAA concerns
Computerworld - The electronic health records plan in President Barack Obama's $825 billion economic stimulus bill aims to boost security and privacy controls beyond those now required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) initially provides $20 billion for the creation of a national electronic health records system that would fundamentally improve the manner in which health information is electronically created, accessed, stored, shared and controlled.
Health care security experts lauded the bill for upgrading HIPAA controls that security experts have criticized for years. Some did say they still fear that the improvements could be diluted at the request of health care lobbyists.
Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, called the bill's proposed ban on the sale of protected health information in electronic medical records and limitations on marketing such data a key upgrade over HIPAA.
The sale and use of personal health data by health care vendors and providers has long posed a strong threat to patient privacy, according to McGraw, who on Jan. 27 testified on health care privacy issues before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (download PDF)
"HIPAA's provisions for when a person's personal information can be used for marketing have never been very strong," McGraw said. "It has always allowed covered entities to use patient information to send communications that have been paid for by an outside marketing company." The new proposal would require covered entities such as hospitals and physician offices to, at a minimum, obtain the consent of the patient before using his information, she said.
Another big change is the requirement that all health care providers and others using health care data disclose in a timely manner any data breach involving the unauthorized acquisition, access, use or disclosure of protected patient health information, McGraw said. The new federal rule is similar to several state laws that require the prompt disclosure of the loss of financial data.
The HITECH bill would also hold business associates -- such as billing and medical transcription services -- to the same security and privacy standards as the controllers of health care data, noted Peter MacKoul, president of HIPAA Solutions LC, a consulting firm in Sugar Land, Texas. The new bill eliminates many of the loopholes that let providers bypass similar HIPAA restrictions, he added.
The bill also calls for steeper civil fines and penalties for third parties found to be negligent in protecting health care data, MacKoul said.
McGraw noted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which enforces HIPAA rules, has rarely fined health care firms for violations, despite "thousands of complaints" from patients. The HITECH bill, she said, requires that HHS imposes fines or other penalties on violators.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- The Business Value of Continuous Delivery
- Download this whitepaper to learn more about the business value of Continuous Delivery and see why it could be a game changer for...
- Ten Factors Shaping the Future of Application Delivery
- Download this research report conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) to learn how those that are seeking to accelerate application delivery are leveraging...
- Software Asset Management: Ensuring Today's Assets
- Today's trends like BYOD and SaaS are new and exciting in terms of how they will help make our jobs more productive but...
- Trends Shaping Software Management: 2014
- Most IT executives recognize the relationship between mobile computing and worker productivity, and have long issued notebook computers and other mobile devices to... All Government IT White Papers
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Transform Your IT Service Management Watch this webinar, to learn how EasyVista can increase IT productivity & efficiency and deliver streamlined & integrated IT Service & Asset Mgmt.
- IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- Leveraging Flash Storage to Accelerate Oracle Real Application Clusters Join this webinar to understand the latest solid-state storage trends, the specific applications driving solid-state storage deployments and the benefits of deploying the...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- All Government IT Webcasts