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Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, National Health Information Network, privacy policy, Regional Health Information Organization



  1. Noblin, Alice M. MBA, RHIA, LHRM


Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs) are forming in response to President George W. Bush's 2004 mandate that medical information be made available electronically to facilitate continuity of care. Privacy concerns are a deterrent to widespread acceptance of RHIOs. The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 provides some guidelines for privacy protection. However, most states have stricter guidelines, causing difficulty when RHIOs form across these jurisdictions. This article compares several RHIOs including their privacy policies where available. In addition, studies were reviewed considering privacy concerns of people in the United States and elsewhere. Surveys reveal that Americans are concerned about the privacy of their personal health information and ultimately feel it is the role of the government to provide protection. The purpose of this article is to look at the privacy issues and recommend a policy that may help to resolve some of the concerns of both providers and patients. Policy research and action are needed to move the National Health Information Network toward reality. Efforts to provide consistency in privacy laws are a necessary early step to facilitate the construction and maintenance of RHIOs and the National Health Information Network.