A new white paper from George Washington University's Department of Health Policy examines whether, to what extent, and how patients should have the option to control the sharing of their health information in a health information exchange.

The paper, "Consumer Consent Options for Electronic Health Information Exchange: Policy Considerations and Analysis," is the first of a serious of privacy and security reports the university is doing under contract with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The paper examines five core options for consent: no consent, opt-out, opt-out with exceptions, opt-in and opt-in with restrictions.

"The consent model selected for electronic exchange, as well as the determination of which types of health information to exchange, affects many stakeholders (e.g., patients, providers and payers)," according to the paper. "These decisions also have consequences for national policy goals, such as improving the quality of healthcare, promoting public health, engaging patients in their health care, and ensuring the privacy and security of personal health information. This discussion requires not only an appreciation of the sometimes competing interests of various stakeholders, but also consideration of the interests of the individual relative to those of society as a whole."

To access the white paper, click here.

--Joseph Goedert


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