Thursday, April 7, 2011

Do Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) rules adequately address patient data privacy?

Proposed rules about Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) were released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The goal of ACOs is to allow health care providers to share patient medical records to coordinate treatment for individual patients across hospitals, long-term care facilities, and doctor’s offices.
"ACO will comply with the limitations on the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health information that the HIPAA Privacy Rule places on HIPAA covered entities, as well as all other applicable privacy and confidentiality requirements;." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS
The HHS is "particularly interested in comments on the kinds and frequency of data that would be useful to ACOs, potential privacy and security issues, and the implications for sharing protected health information with ACOs, and the use of a beneficiary opt-out, as opposed to an opt-in, to obtain beneficiary consent to the sharing of their information."

What are your thoughts? Do the proposed rules for Accountable Care Organizations appropriately address patient data privacy concerns? Please post your comments and suggestions.
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Sources:
(a) Affordable Care Act to improve quality of care for people with Medicare - HHS Press Office, March 31, 2011
(b) Medicare Program; Medicare Shared Savings Program: Accountable Care Organizations - Medicare Program; Medicare Shared Savings Program: Accountable Care Organizations
(c) Medicare Program; Medicare Shared Savings Program: Accountable Care Organizations - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS, March 31, 2011 (NOTE: This link is no longer working and the document seems to be unavailable on the internet.)


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