Experts discuss data sharing, privacy at Health Privacy Summit

Summit discusses health IT, data protection.

Summit discusses health IT, data protection.

Increased use of web based chiropractic software gives practitioners the ability to easily share useful medical information with patients and other facilities, a capability that can improve patient involvement in their care, as well as the care itself. However, along with that sharing comes risks. This was the main topic of the Third International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy in Washington, D.C. on June 6.

Currently, the majority of doctors are under the gun of impending meaningful use deadlines, and while some are using the time up until October 2014 to carefully plot out their EHR implementation protocols, others may be rushing the process and potentially putting patient data at risk. For instance, allowing too many employees access to information in EHRs can be a mistake, said Leo Dittemore, director of technical services at Denver-based DaVita HealthCare Partners, at the summit. 

But this is just one of many causes of breach, which can range from the accidental to the malevolent. In order for practices to safeguard their patient information, they should devise a data governance strategy, according to a report on the summit by Fierce Health IT. This can include having experts and lawyers on hand to advise in implementing health IT, creating protocols to use it and providing guidance in cases of breach. Peter Adler, chief privacy officer at a Virginia-based tech company, said at the summit that his company is using data governance as its main protection against HIPAA violations

"Data governance is one way to deal with it, creating a model where you have stakeholders that are going to help with protection," Adler said, quoted by Fierce Health IT. "They can come in many shapes in sizes, some CISOs, some lawyers, some project team leaders – they're all part of it."

Improving patient care with data sharing

While all practices need to be vigilant about protecting information stored in their web based chiropractic software, this should not include failing to use full data sharing capabilities. In addition to making patient data available to healthcare providers from any facility, this technology can also send information regarding patients' visit history, lab test results, treatments and recommendations to a patient portal where the individual can review it. This helps make people more aware of not only the care they're receiving, but also the costs involved, ultimately encouraging them to become more active in the treatment they receive. 

Anil Jain, CIO of a software company that helps practices manage big data, said at the summit that the transparency provided through information sharing is an important aspect of reform. 

"We have to balance the value the information brings with the privacy and safety of patients," he said, quoted by Fierce Health IT. "Patients need to understand it's not data for the sake of data, but so we can create increasing value and safety." 

One way to illustrate the importance of data collection is to show patients their information on a chiropractic EHR, and instruct them on how to do so at home. When they can see their history of treatments and visits laid out for them, it may spark an increased effort to take better management of their care, potentially leading to better outcomes. 

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