Data Privacy And Security Discussed In ONC HIT Congressional Report

King & Spalding

On February 29, 2016, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (“ONC”) issued its annual report to Congress outlining the progress that has been made in electronic health information.  The report focused heavily on the steps that have been taken towards modernizing the nation’s health IT infrastructure, while also discussing various barriers that need to be overcome to further improve the current state of health IT in the country. 

One of the key barriers discussed was information blocking, which may hinder individuals’ ability to access their own health information if they cannot pay the required access fees.  The ONC highlighted the fact that current law does not “directly prohibit information blocking and provides no effective means to investigate and remedy it.”  The report also discussed how the variations between state and federal privacy laws create confusion among providers while also making it difficult to implement new technologies.

To break down these barriers, the ONC emphasized the importance of enabling consumers to easily and securely access their health information without impeding providers’ abilities to deliver safe and efficient care.  Ultimately, the ONC determined that the most effective means of achieving these ends is through the implementation of federally recognized national interoperations standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information.  Thus, over the next year, the ONC will prioritize building the economic case for interoperability by increasing incentives, discouraging health information blocking, and coordinating with health IT stakeholders to enhance consumer access and ensure the implementation of robust privacy and security protections.    

Reporter, Brett Schlossberg, Palo Alto, CA, +1 650 422 6708,

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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