States join privacy and security collaborative

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RTI International announced yesterday that 22 states have signed agreements to join a national public-private collaborative aimed at addressing privacy and security policy questions affecting interoperable health information exchange. The collaborative is part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) plan to identify and reduce variations in business policies and state laws related to the privacy and security of health information, according to a release.The project is being managed by RTI in cooperation with the National Governors Association under contract to HHS, and working specifically with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).            

"Current policies and laws governing the security and privacy of health care information vary considerably nationwide," said Linda Dimitropoulos, project director, RTI. "This collaborative effort among experts will help us work through the myriad security and privacy issues so that policy makers at the state and federal levels can begin to address the concerns that will allow Americans to benefit from improved sharing of health care information.

"The participating states and territories plan to finalize state-level interim assessments by fall 2006, with project completion expected by March 2007. At that time, representatives from each region will discuss implementation plans that will allow electronic sharing of health information across states and territories.

The governors of all 55 U.S. states and territories were invited to participate in the privacy and security project. Twelve additional states and U.S. territories are expected to sign agreements within two weeks. 

The participating states thus far include: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.