The American Congress recognised the importance of protecting people's medical records when it passed HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA requires the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue regulations to enact comprehensive privacy legislation, and HHS issued just such a landmark federal health privacy regulation in December 2000. Health care entities have until April 2003 to implement the new rule.
Under this first-ever federal privacy regulation, consumers now have the right to inspect and copy their own personal health information, a right which currently exists only in about half of the U.S. states. Consumers must also receive notices about how their personal health information will be used and shared with others, as well as options they have to restrict its disclosure.
nVAULT's Health Vault offers regulatory compliance by giving consumers easy-to-use tools to upload and store any or all of their health information and medical records in their own highly secure private vault; and by giving consumers the power from anywhere, at anytime, to completely manage and control how their medical records or health information is accessed, disclosed and shared by doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, or other places of the vault owner's choosing.
eHEALTH has been touted as the future of health care, promising to transform the way health care entities conduct business and change the way patients relate to their health care providers. More than sixty-five million American Internet users have sought health and medical information on-line, and a November 2000 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that a significant number of them use this information to make important decisions about medical care for themselves and loved ones. Health searches now exceed even music hits on Internet Web sites by teenagers in America.
However, a November 2001 study by Georgetown University's Institute for Health Care Research and Policy, Exposed Online: Why the new federal health privacy regulation doesn't offer much protection to Internet Users, reports the new legislation does not apply to most health Web sites. The analysis of the HIPAA regulation's impact on eHealth shows that many who engage in on-line health activities will fall outside the scope of the regulation.
Researchers from the Institute for Health Care Research and Policy believe the application of the regulation to the Internet will be greatly uneven. Individuals may assume that their health information is protected when it is not. Continued diligence will be required of those on-line consumers who value their privacy. Consumers will need to be educated about the limits of the new regulation and empowered to safeguard their most sensitive health information on-line.
Axess Media reportedly believes nVAULT answers the call. nVAULT has suddenly emerged as a market leader in the secure protection and distribution of confidential information and intellectual property over the Internet. By also now empowering consumers and patients with confidentiality and control over their own medical records, as well as providing medical practitioners with secure data, accessible anywhere, anytime, nVAULT provides a key value-added solution to privacy and security concerns within the on-line health information industry.