Rescue plan renews health IT privacy debate

The multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan renews patient privacy issue debate.

The plan to add health information technology to the multibillion-dollar economic stimulus package legislators are developing has renewed the debate over how to protect patient privacy in a nationwide health IT system.

In offering advice to lawmakers, advocates are staking out familiar territory: One side argues that health IT often speeds information sharing into the wrong hands, while the other says overly tough privacy protections could negate the benefits of health IT.

Privacy rights defender Dr. Deborah Peel recently warned that the proposed economic stimulus package risks giving more power to companies that want to exploit health information for their own gain.

“Giving for-profit corporations…a blank check for health IT paves the way to establish a goldmine of information that can be used to increase profits [and] promote expensive — not necessarily more effective — drugs, devices and treatment,” Peel said this week.

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