US Department of Health and Human Services, asked to get involved in guidance for handling patient data

Healthcareitnews.com writes that Texas-based advocacy group called Patient Privacy Rights asked DHH to create cloud-computing guidelines around the issues of secure infrastructure, security standards and business associate agreements with regard to the protection of patients’ personal data.

♣ In April, the Department of Health and Human Services reached a $100,000 HIPAA settlement with Phoenix Cardiac Surgery, after the small physician practice had managed clinical and surgical appointments, between 2007 and 2009, using an Internet-based calendar that also happened to be publicly-available.

♥ The Internet being the most ubiquitous form of cloud computing, an Austin, Texas-based advocacy group called Patient Privacy Rights is pointing to the Phoenix Cardiac Surgery HIPAA violation as an example of why HHS should regulate, or at least guide, cloud use in healthcare.

♠ In a letter to the HHS Office for Civil Rights, Patient Privacy Rights founder and chair Deborah Peel, MD, wrote that “Issuing guidance to strengthen and clarify cloud-based protections for data security and privacy will help assure patients (that) sensitive health data they share with their physicians and other health care professionals will be protected”.

♦ Cloud-computing is proving to be valuable, Peel said, but the nation’s transition to electronic health records will be slowed “if patients do not have assurances that their personal medical information will always have comprehensive and meaningful security and privacy protections.”

Read the whole story HERE.

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