February 08, 2009 12:24 PM
Our modern electronic world has many benefits and conveniences, but the free flow of information also creates privacy concerns. In the realm of health care, privacy protections are needed to preserve patients’ dignity and prevent harms such as discrimination. But such protections can also have unintended consequences for health care, and the health research that is vital for making medical advances. More than 10 years ago Congress called for a set of federal standards, now known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule, to protect the privacy of personally identifiable health information while still allowing the flow of information needed to promote high-quality health care.