Report reviews advantages, risks of IT in health care

Advances in information technology (IT) can improve the quality and other aspects of health care, but electronic storage and exchange of personal health information might compromise privacy, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report issued Sept. 17.

This report updates a January 2007 GAO report in which the agency recommended that Health and Human Services (HHS) define and implement an overall privacy approach to protect personal health information exchanged via a national health information network.

The new report recommends that the HHS secretary direct the national coordinator for health IT to implement a process for assessing and prioritizing stakeholder needs and its many initiatives pertaining to privacy. The goal is to ensure the important privacy principles and challenges are addressed fully and adequately. To read the report, go to www.gao.gov/new.items/d081138.pdf.