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Texas Groups Launch PHI-based Pilot

July 11, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Two Texas organizations are participating in an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) sponsored pilot program that will explore how patients can better control the release of their protected health information (PHI).

The groups, the Health Information Technology (Health IT) Program at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and Dallas-based privacy software vendor, Jericho Systems Corporation, will be involved with the pilot. They will simulate the exchange of electronic medical records (EMRs) through eHealth exchange, which will be augmented by adding a centralized repository that allows the virtual patients to specify conditions under which their PHI can be electronically shared.

"We view this pilot as an opportunity for our students and faculty to experience and contribute to the important process of developing standards-based, privacy controls that will be required to protect consumers' medical data as access requests continue to escalate," Leanne Field, Ph.D., director of UT Austin's Health IT program, said in a statement.

The pilot will attempt to explore how requests for a patient's PHI can be reported back to the patient so that each patient can be aware of who is asking for their medical information. Currently, it’s difficult for healthcare consumers to review requests electronically for their PHI or learn the outcome of those requests. Those involved say giving patients knowledge of who is trying to access their PHI can help possibly identity medical identity theft or cases of mistaken identity.

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