Patient Privacy Rights Wants You to Know How Health Data Is Used

Lora Bentley spoke with Ashley Katz, the executive director for Patient Privacy Rights, a national non-profit consumer health privacy watchdog, just before the organization released its privacy report cards for five personal health record systems that are available for consumer use. The goal, she says, is to inform the public how the data is being used, as well as give regulators a tool with which to determine how best to regulate the emerging market for PHRs.

Bentley: Is that how the PHR Report Card project came about?
Katz: It’s actually a specific grant-funded initiative. The Rose Foundation has a consumer and privacy fund. Part of the deliverables for our grant included putting out the PHR Report card. There were a couple of reasons for why we wanted to do that. One is we think it’s a great way to educate the public, by giving them something tangible and specific.

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).