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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Devil is in the Details: How Patients' Mental Health Data is at Risk

By Farai Chideya
The Intercept
Aug. 21 2015

Here is an excerpt:

If the effort to blend the efficiency of technology with patients’ privacy needs has backfired in general health care (see “Medical Privacy Under Threat”), it is causing particular emotional and financial wounds in the world of mental health, where even a well-managed diagnosis can become a job-threatening stigma. HIPAA laws, long assumed by patients to protect their privacy, only apply in certain circumstances to certain entities. There’s a raging debate over how to regulate the new privacy issues around employee assistance plans and workplace wellness incentives. And the issue of how and when to track mental health patients has even become an issue at the U.S.-Canada border. Citing the high numbers of Americans who have experienced sexual abuse, major depression, or substance abuse, Dr. Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist who founded Patient Privacy Rights, a research and advocacy group, says, “You cannot force people to cough up information when it’s not private. They will hide it. How can we accept an electronic records system that drives people away from being open and honest?”

The entire article is here.