Group Finds Privacy Holes in Digital Health Records

A consumer watchdog group is warning that many leading electronic medical record systems don’t do enough to secure sensitive patient information

“We’re alarmed about the growing use of personal health information without patients’ knowledge or explicit permission,” Ashley Katz, executive director of Patient Privacy Rights, told reporters on a conference call.

Katz’s group today released a report card evaluating the privacy protections embedded in several leading electronic medical record systems, finding that while results varied widely, many products come up short.

The push to digitize medical records, both as a means to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes, has emerged as a policy priority of the Obama administration, which backed a stimulus bill that included $19 billion to fund electronic personal health records (PHRs).

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