US sets out privacy guidelines for EHRs

The US Department of Health and Human Services has published new privacy guidelines for electronic health records (EHRs), based on providing citizens with the ability to choose how far they want to share information. The new guidelines set out eight principals, desigend to facilitate the adoption of electronic health records by providing a consistent approach to questions of privacy and defining the responsibilities of those who have access to them. The principles address issues of patient access; correction of records; openness and transparency; patient choice; limitations to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal health information; data integrity; safeguards; and clear accountability arrangements. In a December announcement, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said: “Finding the balance between increased access to information and privacy is very important. If we don’t have it, we won’t succeed.” Leavitt added: “Consumers shouldn’t be in a position to have to accept privacy risks they don’t want. Each consumer should be able to choose products and services that best fit their health needs and privacy preferences.” “Consumers need an easy-to-read, standard notice about how their personal health information is protected, confidence that those who misuse information will be held accountable, and the ability to choose the degree to which they want to participate in information sharing.” The eight principals published by HSS are: Individual access


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