US hasn't 'really sorted out privacy' of consumer health data, says ONC head

Despite its push to advance health IT data sharing with HHS' new interoperability rules, the U.S. still has work to do regarding data security and privacy, according to National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD.

In a July 30 interview with GovInfoSecurity, Dr. Rucker discussed the country's health IT advancements and where it needs improvements in security. He compared the U.S.' data security regulation's to Europe's, which in 2016 passed the General Data Protection Regulation that applies to both European business, governments and organizations that use consumers' personal data as well as organizations outside the European Union that collect data related to EU citizens.

"As a country, we really haven't sorted out privacy," Dr. Rucker said. "The Europeans with their global digital privacy directives are taking a stab at it." He added that the U.S. must move to ensure that health data collected by location-based technologies, wearable devices and websites should be properly protected.

Regarding patient data consent, Dr. Rucker said the U.S. still has "a long way to go," to ensure patients have a clear understanding and ability to approve how their data is used. Consent processes currently used by healthcare organizations, such as three-page forms when the patient arrives at the emergency department or pre-op for surgery are "not really consent," but rather "a contract of adhesion, legally."

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