Health Information Management

Balance patient privacy and medical research

Briefings on HIPAA, January 1, 2008

Is it possible to keep patient information private without stifling medical research? The answer may depend on who is answering the question. Patient privacy advocate Deb Peel, MD, founder and chair of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation in Austin, TX, calls HIPAA "a data miners dream." Unbeknownst to many patients, HIPAA authorizes several uses of PHI. "Getting patient consent is the only ethical way to use patient information," she says. But a recent survey of more than 1,500 epidemiologists commissioned by the Institute of Medicine and published in the November 12, 2007, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) offers a vastly different perspective.

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