In June, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) published a request for information about its plan to create a “public/private” national database of healthcare information tentatively called the “National Health Data Stewardship entity.” WPF and EFF raised questions about ownership and management of the proposed database (Would this database fall under HIPAA? Would it fall under the Privacy Act of 1974?), questions about identifiability of patients in the database, and suggested that a full-time, independent privacy officer should be established for the program from the inception of the planning stages. The comments also discussed the numerous questions relating to data security (including medical identity theft) and data quality, as well as consent, access, and opt-out procedures for patients that the proposed national database raises. Read the joint comments (PDF)
The FDA has not paid attention to privacy standards that should be applied to RiskMAP programs. Unfortunately, this lack of FDA attention has resulted in inappropriate and unethical marketing to patients using patient information gathered for treatment purposes. If these marketing activities were being conducted by HIPAA-covered entities, the activities would be illegal. These activities may well be illegal in California, which has a strong state-level medical privacy law that goes beyond HIPAA.