New York — An array of organizations endeavoring to enable consumers to view their health records online have joined to endorse a set of standard practices.

The framework defines a set of practices that can help protect personal information and enhance consumer participation in online personal health records. The coalition includes insurance industry heavyweights such as Aetna and the BlueCross BlueShield Association, care providers such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, as well as technology providers including Google, Microsoft and WebMD.

"Consumer demand for electronic personal health records and online health services will take off when consumers trust that personal information will be protected," says Zoe Baird, president of the New York-based Markle Foundation, which organized the consensus framework. "We have broken the typical logjam in health care and reached a consensus among health sectors and technology innovators, so Internet health information products can flourish."

The framework—developed by the Markle-operated Connecting for Health public-private collaboration—includes four overviews and 14 specific technology and policy approaches for consumers to access health services, to obtain and control copies of health information about them, to authorize the sharing of their information with others, and sound privacy and security practices.

In 2006, Connecting for Health released a framework of policy and technology resources for privacy and security in Internet-based networks connecting medical professionals from different institutions and clinics. The new framework deals with networks that include individual consumers as participants who can collect their information, store it in applications they control and share it with whomever they want.

Source: Markle Foundation

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