HPP Resigns from Government Privacy Workgroup

Letter to Robert Kolodner, M.D. – Interim National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Robert Kolodner, M.D.
Interim National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
330 C Street SW Ste 4090
Washington DC 20201

Dear Dr. Kolodner:

On behalf of the Health Privacy Project (HPP), we submit this resignation of HPP’s Deputy Director Paul Feldman as the Co-chair of the American Health Information Community (AHIC) Confidentiality, Privacy, and Security Workgroup (CPS). We have determined we are unable to continue given that the workgroup has not made substantial progress towards the development of comprehensive privacy and security policies that must be at the core of a nationwide health information network (NHIN). The Health Privacy Project’s mission is to raise public awareness of the importance of ensuring health privacy in order to improve health care access and quality for individuals and communities; our website is http://www.healthprivacy.org/. We support the development of an NHIN with strong and enforceable privacy and security rules in place and believe that the failure to achieve a privacy framework acts as a significant barrier to a robust and secure environment for e-health.

As stated, AHIC’s mission is “providing input and recommendations to Health and Human Services on how to make health records digital and interoperable, and assure that the privacy and security of those records are protected, in a smooth, market-led way.”[1] On July 28, 2006, your office invited HPP to serve as Co-chair of the newly forming CPS, whose general charge is to make recommendations to AHIC regarding the protection of personal health information in order to secure trust, and support appropriate interoperable electronic health information exchange. The original charge for CPS as discussed at the May 16, 2006 AHIC meeting also includes developing “a scope of work for a long-term independent advisory body on privacy and security policies.”[2] The specific work of CPS has been focused in service to three of four AHIC breakthrough use cases.[3]

{Today’s resignation of the Health Privacy Project from AHIC and HHS signals a vote of no confidence re: the will of AHIC and HHS to ensure patients’ privacy rights in the national electronic health system. This is a very important statement from a respected privacy organization. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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