A plea for using smart consent tools

Dear Editor: Your story, ‘Banking on Health IT’ (Government Health IT, July 28, 2008) gives a great overview of the health banking concept as well as the use of ‘smart’ technology to manage patients’ consent to the use of their personal health information (PHI).

If a key aim of building health IT systems is “comparative effectiveness” research on what treatments work, we must recognize that we will never get at data for such research without consumer trust. And the only way to achieve that trust is if consumers control access to their PHI.

Today in my field of mental health at least 30-4o percent of patients are totally off-the-grid. They have no records anywhere because they refuse to seek treatment, knowing their records will not be private. They pay out-of-pocket to clinicians like me so there will be no information in any electronic systems about their treatment.

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