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Most Americans are still wary about storing or transmitting their personal medical information on the Internet, a recent Gallup survey found.
Commissioned by Turlock, CA-based MedicAlert Foundation, an emergency medical information service, the study was the first to survey the general public, not just Internet users. Gallup found that 77% of all respondents rated privacy of their personal health information as "very important," and that 84% said they are "very or somewhat concerned" that personal health information might be made available to others without their consent.
Because of these privacy concerns, only 7% of the respondents told Gallup researchers they were willing to store or transmit personal health information on the Internet, and only 8% would trust the security of a Web site for their information.
By contrast, 90% said they trust their doctors to keep the information private and secure; 66% trust a hospital to do so; 42% trust insurance companies; and 35% trust a managed care company. For more information, go to www.medicalert.org.
American hospitals and health care payer organizations are preparing to meet growing consumer and governmental concerns about patient information security and privacy, according to a survey conducted by Phoenix Health Systems in Montgomery Village, MD.
Phoenix’s October on-line survey of 468 health care industry representatives indicated that the majority of hospitals, payers, and other health care organizations acknowledge that new regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 require their immediate response. Under HIPAA, health care organizations must comply with new security and privacy standards to protect individually identifiable health information.
Most organizations’ HIPAA-related efforts are focused first on building internal awareness of the public's privacy concerns, the relevance of HIPAA, and the implications for health care organizations’ operations. More than half have begun the process of assessing their organizations’ systems, procedures and practices to identify privacy and security vulnerabilities. Their next steps will include actual compliance planning, internal implementation and staff training.
Complete Fall 2000 HIPAA survey results, including graphics, are available at www.hipaadvisory.com/action/survey/fall2000.htm.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has developed a set of fundamental principles and list of operational tenets it recommends as a blueprint for protecting the security of patients’ health records and ensuring the quality of that information on the Web.
The three fundamental principals are: e-health organizations should provide an easily understandable notice of their health information practices that informs consumers what personal health information is being collected, who is collecting it and how it is being used; these organizations should make it easy to collect authentic, accurate, timely, and complete individually identifiable personal health data; and they should maintain individually identifiable personal health information in such a way that ensures it is private, secure, and retained or destroyed only in accordance with the consumer’s authorization or applicable law.
AHIMA’s list of 39 tenets and how they apply to providers, consumers, and third parties is available in the November/December issue of the Journal of the AHIMA, and on-line at www.ahima.org/infocenter/guidelines/tenets.html.