Patient Privacy Rights hires CTO

Organization calls Adrian Gropper, MD, pioneer in guarding patient privacy

Patient Privacy Rights appointed Adrian Gropper, MD as its first chief technology officer. Gropper is an expert in the regulated medical device field, an experienced medical informatics executive, and he has a long record of contributing to the development of state and national health information standards,  according to a PPR news release.

Gropper, who has worked with federal initiatives and the Markle Foundation to help create the Direct Project’s secure email system and Blue Button technologies says he joins PPR because the challenges of runaway costs and deep inequities in the U.S. health system call for new information tools and inspired regulation.

[See also: Q&A: Privacy maven Deborah Peel, MD.]

“PPR’s deep respect for the medical profession and our total dedication to the patient perspective form the foundation for a series of policy and practice initiatives to shape health reform and electronic health systems,” Gropper said in the news release.  “As a member of the PPR team, I look forward to driving a national consensus on the most difficult issues in the information age, including respectful patient identity, trustworthy consent, research acceleration, and effective public health.”

According to PPR, Gropper is a pioneer in privacy-preserving health information technology going as far back as the Guardian Angel Project at MIT in 1994. As CTO of one of the earliest personal health records companies, MedCommons, he actively participated in most of the PHR policy and standards initiatives of the past decade.

Gropper contributed to the 2012 Massachusetts health payment reform legislation and is also active as an adviser to the Massachusetts Health Information Exchange, serves on the Massachusetts Medical Society’s IT committee and the NSTIC/ IDESG healthcare working group, and participates in a number of other public and industry initiatives where he advocates for patients and the primacy of the physician-patient compact.

PPR is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that defines its mission as ensuring patients control the collection, use and disclosure of sensitive personal health information in electronic systems. It has over 12,000 members in all 50 states and leads the bipartisan Coalition for Patient Privacy, representing more than 10.3 million Americans.

Healthcare IT News asked Deborah Peel, MD, founder of PPR, to explain what it means to have Gropper become a part of the team.

Q: What does it mean to have Dr. Gropper join your efforts?

A: It has long been our dream to have another physician leader in PPR. Unfortunately it really does take people who have inside knowledge of the incredibly complex and fragmented US healthcare system to understand what’s going on. We welcome the help of all health professionals, computer scientists, and technologists who see that the future of privacy depends on whether we restore personal control over the most sensitive personal information on earth: personal health data.

Q: Why does PPR need a CTO? 

A: Patient Privacy Rights (PPR) has long needed someone with a deep knowledge of electronic systems on our team.  Dr. Gropper can translate the rights to privacy the public expects health IT and electronic systems to ensure into technical specifications.  

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with a CTO?  

A: Patient Privacy Rights and all privacy advocacy and civil society organizations need deep expertise in technology and computer science. First we were lucky enough to have Professor Latanya Sweeney accept our invitation to join our board of directors.  Dr. Gropper’s acceptance of the position of CTO grew from our close collaboration over the past year.  We are deeply grateful to have him with us. He allows us to address technology standards and system designs in depth and to reach out and work more closely with the health IT industry. Best of all as a physician, he knows how to address technology gaps and flaws that harm patients.

Q: How far have you come since you started, to get to a place where you can have such a distinguished individual to join your ranks?

A: PPR was founded in 2004. To date, we have never had a budget of more than $200K/year. I am a full-time volunteer. We have 2 and ? employees. PPR has been so successful and influential because many, many very accomplished friends, experts, and privacy advocates from industry, academia, government, and from the bipartisan Coalition for Patient Privacy donate countless hours to helping us. We are a grassroots movement, dependent on people who believe it’s important that technology uphold the fundamental right of a Democracy: that law-abiding citizens have the right to privacy, the right to be let alone.

[See also: Third big HIPAA breach for OHSU.]

 

[See also: 5,000 affected by hospice HIPAA breach.]

This article was updated May 3, 2013 at 1:52 p.m. with Q&A from Deborah Peel.