Rhode Island addresses patient data privacy, security

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Lawmakers in Rhode Island this week introduced legislation that would create a set of patient safeguards that go beyond existing state and federal privacy and data security protections for shared information in preparation for the launch of a statewide health information exchange (HIE).

The legislation, called the Rhode Island Health Information Exchange Act of 2008, will “establish safeguards and confidentiality protections for the HIE in order to improve the quality, safety and value of healthcare, keep confidential health information secure and confidential, and use the HIE to progress toward meeting public health goals.”

In addition, the act would make the exchange voluntary for both providers and patients, who would have the right to terminate participation at any time, and also would give consumers access to what information is shared and who is accessing it, as well as reports of security breaches.

Since 2004, the Rhode Island Quality Institute has been working to develop a statewide health data exchange through a five-year, $5 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), according to Health IT Strategist.

The bill is the product of a community-engagement process that included consumers, consumer advocate organizations, physicians and other providers, insurers, hospitals, universities, employers and state officials, according to the AHRQ.