Friday, November 26, 2010

Understanding the Digital Database Idea.

Last week, we presented a few ideas about the controversy surrounding a proposed digital database for insurance consumer information. The obvious faults that experts pointed out about the plan centered on the possibility that data-miners or corporate interests could easily access consumer information. Now we are going to take a look at the legislation that inspired the concept.

Back in July of this year, the Obama administration began announcing the features of the healthcare reform plan. Part of this plan was for every citizen to have an electronic medical record by 2014. This was motivated by the desire to make the process of healthcare easier, faster, and cheaper. A nationally-accessible database would prevent much of the pointless paperwork that takes up time and money in today’s system. It is around this point that things begin to get interesting.

The primary arguments today against this system are the potential for corporate interests to access private information. In actuality, privacy was one of the founding principles of the electronic database idea. In July, when the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act cam out, it required HHS to re-write HIPAA to strengthen privacy, security, and enforcement. The language used in HITECH is very similar to the language used to promote the electronic database:
  • Expanding individuals' rights to access their information and to restrict certain kinds of disclosures of protected health information to health plans
  • Requiring business associates of HIPAA-covered entities to follow most of the same rules as the covered entities
  • Setting new limitations on the use and disclosure of protected health information for marketing and fund raising; and
  • Prohibiting the sale of protected health information without patient authorization (From FierceHealthcare).
So now we have a system devised to protect privacy and security in response to a rule-change based in those same values. As long as the digital database functions as intended, it seems like a win-win scenario. Obviously, there is always the chance that an immoral healthcare worker could sell personal information to data-miners, but isn’t that just as possible today?


Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. You can contact Pam at

No comments:

Post a Comment