Health data exchanges vary in security, privacy

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As series of reports issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) examines the variations in data privacy and security among 34 regional health information organizations.

The reports found that state RHIOs varied in several areas, including the level of adoption for electronic health data exchanges, state healthcare market forces, and legal and regulatory conditions related to health information.

The reports recommended additional research and guidance on:
•    Determining states' varying interpretations of HIPAA and boosting stakeholder awareness;
•    Assessing differences between state and federal privacy laws;
•    Assessing technologies that could protect the security and privacy of individuals, as well as the related administrative processes and liabilities;
•    Creating a system that matches patients with their health information and is updated by various providers and organizations; and
•    Developing a standard set of definitions and terms to ease health data sharing.
The reports are the result of a nearly two-year, $17 million project funded by AHRQ and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. Research Triangle Institute International in North Carolina conducted the research for the reports.