OMB sponsors online discussion of privacy issues

The Office of Management and Budget has asked the National Academy of Public Administration to hold a public discussion this month of health care privacy issues through an interactive Web site.


The “National Dialogue on Health Information Technology and Privacy” will take place the week of Oct. 27 at www.thenationaldialogue.org.


Although the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is the federal government’s lead agency for health IT-related issues and is scheduled to release a framework for protecting the privacy of patients with health records online this year, there is no indication that ONCHIT has anything to do with OMB’s project.


A National Academy spokeswoman, Lauren Peduzzi, said Dr. Gregg Pane, director of national health care preparedness programs at HHS and a fellow of the academy, will help prepare its report on the privacy dialogue.


“OMB came to us with this project,” Peduzzi said. She said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator of e-government and information technology, initiated the project, which is co-sponsored by the federal CIO Council and the General Services Administration.


Although the discussion will be open to the public, Peduzzi said, “we’re targeting stakeholders” in health IT. Discussion participants can post questions, ideas, challenges and possible solutions to problems, and they can respond to the posts of others.


Participants must register on the Web site, but their identities will not necessarily be evident to other participants, Peduzzi said.


A panel of academy fellows will review the postings and produce a report in December with recommendations for the new administration, she said. Two businesses with expertise in online discussions, Delib and AmericaSpeaks, are working with the academy to create the site.


Asked for comment on the project, a spokesman for the Office of the National Coordinator, Nancy Szemraj, said that “ONC plans to follow their activities closely and is hopeful that this technology may provide input for future activities regarding the privacy framework.”

About the Author

Nancy Ferris is senior editor of Government Health IT.

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