This week, we feature the final part of our conversation with Martin Rosner, director of standardization at Philips – North America. Rosner chairs Continua Health Alliance security and privacy discussions and contributes to relevant security initiatives within the healthcare industry. Continua Health Alliance is a non-profit, open industry organization of more than 230 healthcare and technology vendors focused on delivering interoperable health solutions.

VPN Haus: How can patients manage the sharing of their health data?
Martin Rosner: Sharing of health data can be realized only if there are means to prevent unauthorized access to the data and to protect it in accordance with security and privacy regulations. Furthermore, patient empowerment is an important aspect of preventative care—increasing the number of educated patients who have more control over their own healthcare increases the likelihood that conditions will be caught before they become more serious. Soon patients will have more fine-grained control over the dissemination of personally identifiable information as related to health status. Electronic consent that specifies and governs the use of patient health data will furthermore increase consistency, compliance and efficiency for both patients and healthcare providers in this process.

VPN Haus: What role does Continua play in this?
Rosner: Our architecture addresses several requirements enabling digital consent.  Patients should be able to define and manage their digital consent and privacy policies in a user-friendly manner, such as on an at-home device or online. Digital consent should propagate with patient data and systems of services and care providers should enforce this. Our 2011 guidelines will address the first two requirements, while work has begun to address the third requirement in the next release.

VPN Haus: Technically speaking, how does this consent management process work?
Rosner: Taking the enforcement piece aside, the 2011 specifications address consent management with the use of the HL7 CDA R2 Consent Directive standard. This recently approved draft standard for trial use defines a document format for digital consent and enables the expression of structured patient consent policies. An advantage is that it is based on CDA R2 therefore well-defined protocols exist for the exchange of these documents such as through the use of the IHE XD* family of profiles.


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