NM: Legislature to take another look at digital medical records

Trip Jennings reports about legislation dealing with EMRs:

[…]

But with changes in how medicine is practiced, there are also unresolved questions, in particular as they relate to privacy, says Bob Mayer, the chief information officer at the New Mexico Department of Health.

And Mayer and others hope that state lawmakers will pass a law during the upcoming legislative session to plug what he says are gaps in privacy protection. It’s not an easy sell, as supporters found out in 2008 when they twice pushed for the bill but were denied.

“What we were trying to do is fill those gaps to protect the consumer,” says Sen.-elect Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, who sponsored a bill in the regular and special 2008 legislative sessions when he was in the House.

Most medical records fall under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a Clinton-era law outlining a consumer’s privacy rights in regard to medical information. It establishes who does and does not have access to your medical records.

But as more and more records are digitized in New Mexico and across the country, there is a debate among professionals and policy makers whether HIPAA covers all the newly digitized information. For example, Mayer says, Microsoft is storing protected medical information, and Microsoft is not a covered entity under HIPPA.

“Right now we have electronic medical records in the state. We have nothing on the books to lay out how those things should be managed,” says Mayer. “What we and many other states have begun to do is look at building privacy protections into state laws.”

The 2008 versions of the bill would have extended to electronic records the privacy protections in the federal law that already apply to paper medical records. The bills also would have created an audit log to ensure that authorities could track how an inadvertent disclosure of a consumer’s medical records occurred, Wirth says.

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Read more in the New Mexico Independent

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