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The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs announced a demonstration of the standards that will allow sensitive health information to be shared responsibly and within confidentiality laws and regulations for electronic health records.

“This project helps demonstrate that with proper standards in place existing privacy laws and policies can be implemented appropriately in an electronic environment,” said Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Chief Privacy Officer Joy Pritts.

The demonstration aimed to show how sensitive information can be tagged so when sent to another provider with the patient’s permission, the receiving provider will know that they need to obtain the patient’s authorization to further disclose the information with others.

Using standards identified in the Data Segmentation for Privacy Initiative, HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the VA safely and securely transmitted a mock patient’s substance abuse treatment records tagged with privacy metadata from one EHR system to another after electronically verifying the mock patient had consented to the transmission.

“Data Segmentation based on industry standards such as Health Level Seven, make it possible for the first time, to consistently apply and enforce individual privacy choices whether in the primary care physician’s office, shared with other provider’s, returned in reports from outside laboratories or wherever privacy protected health information is used,” said John Davis, VA project lead and Veterans Health Administration Security Architect.