Privacy Controls for the NHIN

At the HIMSS conference on March 1, in an apparent effort to counter the February 1 GAO report criticizing HHS’s efforts to implement privacy controls in National Health Information Network (“NHIN”) and Mr. Feldman’s resignation from the AHIC workgroup, Dr. Rob Kolodner, the HHS interim HIT czar, announced that HHS plans to contract for a pilot “network of networks” that would allow health care consumers to control the flow their own electronic health information. Dr. Kolodner explained that the Government’s RFPs for a trial implementation of the NHIN will require bidders to include specific technical capabilities for enabling such consumer control. This information control should not affect health benefit plans and insurers which can always deny inadequately documented claims. Today’s Government Health Information Technology magazine reports generally favorable reactions to this initiative.