October 18, 2006
The Honorable Patrick Kennedy
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Kennedy:
Consumers Union, the independent, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, congratulates you on the introduction of HR 6289, the Personalized Health Information Act of 2006. We believe your bill is a very practical, common sense approach to building acceptance and use of electronic medical records while protecting patient privacy and confidentiality.
Our country is struggling to move to a nationwide system of inter-operable electronic medical records, but to date, key consumer privacy and security issues have not been dealt with and until these issues are solved, progress is likely to be slow. Your approach avoids these problems by starting with a personal health information (PHI) electronic system that is under the control of the patient. The electronic PHI will help patients and doctors by reducing paperwork, speeding data flow, and serving as a way to remind patients of appointments, medications, and good health practices. This system could eventually serve as a way to track medication adverse side effects and to warn patients of medical recalls. By requiring that the electronic system be interoperable and that the patient can take their electronic PHI from provider to provider, your bill does not interfere with the long-term goal of a national system. By starting with the kind of simple PHI services that will be very popular with patients, you build the groundwork for a more comprehensive system in the future—one that will eventually also be able to cover all health plans including Medicaid.
We look forward to working with you on this and other patient privacy and medical records issues.
Senior Policy Analyst