U.S. lagging in EHR privacy policies: report

While a policy debate is ramping up in the U.S. over how much control patients should have over the transmission and sharing of their electronic healthcare records, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are not only well ahead of the U.S. in setting privacy policies in favor of more patient control, but also in implementing systems that empower patients to restrict the flow of their information–both in whole and in part–according to a new report.

“This is just a snapshot because things are changing on a monthly basis, particularly in the U.K and the Netherlands,” said report co-author Joy Pritts, a privacy lawyer and associate professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. “They’re having some very important trials on parts of their national system.”

“Canada is using masking technology right now,” Pritts said in a telephone interview. “In all of the provinces we identified, people can mask the information. We just looked at these three (Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario) because they were established or developing programs where the requirements were publicly available. They’ve been doing this in B.C. for over a decade.”

“We in the U.S. like to think that we are the foundation of democracy, and you look at other countries and they give their patients a lot more choice, from a policy angle,” Pritts said. “Once you’ve established a policy, what these other countries have chosen to do is make the technology fit the policy. In the U.K., their policy process is quite open and it has evolved over time and they’ve had to get back and revisit some of these things, so they are doing the policy and the technology hand-in-hand.”

{European health systems give patients control over who can access their personal health information. Americans want Congress to give us that same degree of control. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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