ONCHIT tests guidance for health records

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is testing an online template to guide health technology providers in understanding and developing electronic personal health records.

The coordinator’s office will be doing in-depth interviews with several dozen consumers about the template through October.

A personal health record typically includes a person’s health history, vaccinations, allergies, test results and prescription information. Vendors including Google, Microsoft, Revolution Health and WebMD are providing tools to create online versions of the records.

The coordinator’s office said it is getting involved because the concept is new and uses sensitive information and vendors typically offer such information in different formats.

The goal is to help consumers make informed decisions about selecting and using such records, according to a Federal Register notice dated May 22. Public comments are due in 30 days.

The 12-page template is meant to be filled in by vendors to provide information to consumers. It asks them questions, such as: Who can view your personal information? Suggested answers are families, employers, providers, pharmacies, insurers, vendors and other. It also asks how the vendor may use and store the personal information.

In one category of questions, it asks whether a vendor will continue to store personal health information for an individual after the individual has closed the personal health record with that vendor.

It also asks what will happen to the personal health information if a vendor is sold or goes out of business.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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