For Your Eyes Only: Conference Attendees Identify Strategies for Maintaining Privacy of Health Care Data

National conference on privacy and confidentiality and the changing health care market

Health Systems Research (now Altarum), Washington, sponsored a national conference entitled "Protecting the Confidentiality of Patient Information in a Rapidly Changing Health Care System: A National Conference" on January 14, 1998, in Washington.

Health Systems Research is an organization that has established itself as a neutral convener around many controversial issues and that serves as a meeting coordinator for the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.

Key Results

The 150 attendees included federal and state policy makers, researchers, and analysts, as well as representatives from consumer groups and managed care organizations.

Project staff commissioned five papers for the conference that:

  • Highlighted emerging privacy issues—including the challenges presented by genetic testing.
  • Promoted discussion of appropriate measures that would balance patient privacy with legitimate use of medical information.

Several key issues were raised and discussed during the conference. They were:

  • There is a need to develop a balanced approach to the protection of patient privacy.
  • A combination of potential technological and legal solutions does exist.
  • Multiple perspectives drive this complex debate.
  • Genetic information will pose greater challenges.
  • Congressional interest in this issue will continue.

In 1998 Health Systems Research published the proceedings, including the five commissioned papers, in one volume, Protecting the Confidentiality of Patient Information in a Rapidly Changing Health Care System: Summary of a National Conference.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this conference with a grant of $118,627 between July 1997 and August 1998.

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