Although advances in information technology (IT) can improve the quality and other aspects of health care, the electronic storage and exchange of personal health information introduces risks to the privacy of that information. In January 2007, GAO reported on the status of efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure the privacy of personal health information exchanged within a nationwide health information network. GAO recommended that HHS define and implement an overall privacy approach for protecting that information. For this report, GAO was asked to provide an update on HHS's efforts to address the January 2007 recommendation. To do so, GAO analyzed relevant HHS documents that described the department's privacy-related health IT activities.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Health and Human Services||To ensure that key privacy principles and challenges are fully and adequately addressed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the National Coordinator for Health IT to include in the department's overall privacy approach a process for assessing and prioritizing its many privacy-related initiatives and the needs of stakeholders.|