Contractor Tackles Patient Consent Issue

Project is Part of Effort to Boost Health Information Exchange
Contractor Tackles Patient Consent Issue
Federal authorities have hired a contractor to design, develop and test ways to electronically obtain and record patients' consent to exchange their information. The effort comes as regional and statewide health information exchanges ramp up their efforts to share electronic health records among providers.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT awarded the $1.24 million contract to APP Design Inc. The company also will work to "find an efficient, effective and innovative way to help patients better understand their choices regarding whether and when their healthcare provider can share their health information electronically, including sharing it with a health information exchange organization," according to a statement from ONC.

A statement of work for the project notes the contractor will work on innovative ways to:

  • Educate and inform individuals of their option to give individual choice in a clinical setting to electronically share their health information;
  • Ensure that individuals are knowledgeable participants in decisions about the sharing of their electronic health information in a clinical environment; and
  • Explore and evaluate ways of electronically obtaining and recording "meaningful and informed choice" from individuals in a clinical setting regarding sharing their electronic health information.

The statement of work also notes: "The project is designed to help identify some innovative best practices in ensuring that any choices patients make with respect to sharing their health information are indeed, meaningful: i.e., patients are adequately educated about issues that are important to them, and that they understand the choices they make as well as the consequences of those choices."

Earlier, HHS awarded a $1.26 million contract to Lockheed Martin for a project to help "gain an in-depth understanding of how privacy consent directives may become a core part of future [electronic health record incentive program] meaningful use requirements for trusted exchange of sensitive records."

Last year, the Health IT Policy Committee, acting on recommendations from its Privacy & Security Tiger Team, outlined a meaningful consent process for obtaining patient permission to exchange their information. But the "meaningful consent" proposal has not yet emerged in any proposed regulations. It could, for example, wind up in the EHR incentive program criteria or in the Nationwide Health Information Exchange governance rule, now in the works, which will provide guidelines for those using the NwHIN standards to share information.


About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

News Editor, ISMG

Anderson is news editor of Information Security Media Group and was founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.




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