Segmenting EHRs to Protect Privacy

ONC Launches Pilot Effort Leveraging Metadata Tags
Segmenting EHRs to Protect Privacy
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has launched a project designed to test sharing only portions of patient's electronic health records among providers to help assure privacy.

ONC will hold a webinar Oct. 5 to describe the Data Segmentation Initiative. It has created a Wiki page that describes how organizations can join the effort to create standards for the segmentation of data elements within EHRs. "Wide community participation will ensure that the standards reflect technology used across the industry and meet the needs of all stakeholders," says Joy Pritts, ONC's chief privacy officer.

The project will involve using metadata tags to indicate patient consent for the exchange of specific elements within a record. For example, such a tag could indicate that a patient does not want information about substance abuse treatment shared. The approach was advocated in a report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology as a component of its proposed standard approach to health information exchange.

Earlier, ONC announced other related projects, including:

  • Query Health, a project designed to test standards for querying data from electronic health records to conduct research. That project also will leverage metadata tags as envisioned by PCAST.
  • Tests at the Indiana Health Information Exchange. The HIE is testing enabling more detailed queries of records at the data element level by using metadata tags in patient summary care records. It's also developing a user interface to enable patients to have more granular control over the sharing of their information.
  • Tests at the Health Information Exchange of Montana. This HIE is testing metadata standards by generating patient care summaries from EHR systems and enabling queries to answer population health questions.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

News Editor, ISMG

Anderson is news editor of Information Security Media Group and was founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.




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