ONC ready to test patient e-consent for health data exchange

By Mary Mosquera
12:46 PM

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has awarded a $1.24 million contract to APP Design Inc. of Itasca, Ill., to develop and evaluate methods to electronically obtain from patients their consent about sharing their health data. ONC will begin the electronic consent project later this month.

First, APP Design, a software development firm that specializes in analytics and integrating disparate systems, must explore effective and innovative ways to help patients understand their choices if and when they want their provider to exchange their data and what background information they need to make that decision, ONC said in an announcement Oct. 3.

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“Informed patient choice is one way to ensure a trust relationship with patients for the success of electronic health information exchange,” ONC said in its information about the project

The pilot will run about six months, and the contract will last until March 2013. ONC published a notice in June about the e-consent pilot.

The vendor will develop a graphical user interface for patients to understand the material and follow-up questions and a method, such as electronic signature to capture and record the patient’s choice about sharing health information.

Among its activities, the vendor will collaborate with a clinical setting in which electronic health information is exchanged to test e-consent, gather data and evaluate it. This partner could be involved in provider-to-provider exchange, a health information exchange, accountable care organization, health IT regional extension center, or beacon community participant. 

In its recommendations earlier this year, the advisory Health IT Policy Committee stressed the importance of meaningful consent and that the patient’s provider should be responsible for educating about how information will be shared and with whom. The provider will also obtain and track patient consent.

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Research about patient electronic consent is limited. It is critical to get feedback from patients and understand what information they need when they make decisions about their personal health information as well as what information they consider relevant for patient choice when considering the electronic exchange of their health information, ONC said.