Home  |   Subscribe  |   Resources  |   Reprints  |   Writers' Guidelines

AMA: HIT Proposals Must Do More for Patient Privacy

Physicians See Potential Progress in Rules for Vendors, EHRs

The American Medical Association (AMA) has submitted comprehensive comments to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in response to the sweeping set of proposed changes to HIT certification and implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act and to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in response to its proposal on patient access and interoperability. 

The AMA supports several of the proposed changes, especially around HIT vendor practices, technology development, and EHR performance. The AMA also identified proposals that could prove problematic and run counter to the goals Congress set out to achieve in the Cures Act, particularly around privacy. 

“The AMA strongly supports patients having access to their own health information, which is a laudable goal of the Administration,” says AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, MD. “At the same time, the proposed rules are complicated, intertwined, and may result in a patient’s information being shared with third parties—including those under no obligation to keep information private—in a way the patient didn’t foresee or want.” 

The AMA says the rules, as proposed, would require health information to be shared but do not set any expectations or protections around what a recipient can do with it. 

“For example, a patient’s app should have to reveal to the patient that his or her health information will be sold to other companies. And a health insurance company should be prohibited from using a patient’s medical record to increase prior authorization requirements,” McAneny says. 

Before the proposals are finalized, the AMA requests that patients and policymakers have a robust dialogue and understanding of the potential consequences of these proposed rules. After that, solutions should be implemented to help establish transparency in how health information is used, who is using it, and how to stem data commoditization without a patient’s knowledge. 

“Once the information is out there, it’s virtually impossible to get it back,” McAneny says. “The technological capability to implement these controls exists. If ONC doesn’t implement controls, it is making a policy decision to not prioritize privacy.” 

In its comments, the AMA also makes numerous recommendations to ONC and CMS that will help reduce complexity and simplify documentation requirements while also strengthening patient privacy and physician autonomy:

To read the summary of the ONC letter, click here. To read the entire ONC letter, click here

To read the summary of the CMS letter, click here. To read the entire CMS letter, click here.

— Source: American Medical Association