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Bolstering Healthcare Data Privacy: Biden Administration Proposes New Regulations

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Ethan Sulliva
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Bolstering Healthcare Data Privacy: Biden Administration Proposes New Regulations

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Proposed Regulations Aimed at Enhancing Patient Privacy

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In a bid to bolster patients' privacy and address concerns over the impact of data sharing systems on reproductive health, the Biden administration is proposing new regulations. These regulations aim to ensure that health care providers can easily segment and protect specific information from disclosure when requested by patients. Advocates have urged for more protection, particularly for reproductive health data, to prevent confidentiality breaches that could lead to harmful consequences. However, concerns about the practicality and potential unintended consequences of the proposed rules have been raised by health IT developers and organizations. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is currently evaluating these concerns. If implemented, these proposed regulations could significantly impact patient privacy and data sharing practices in the healthcare system.

Improving Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Sector

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released a strategy document outlining how the Biden administration proposes to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare sector. The strategy includes updating the HIPAA Security Rule, establishing new cybersecurity requirements for hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs, and setting new voluntary cybersecurity performance goals for healthcare entities. This comes in light of increasing hacking incidents at hospitals and medical centers that have led to digital outages, posing patient safety risks. Large data breaches and ransomware attacks have also increased, prompting the proposal of financial programs to incentivize healthcare entities to implement cybersecurity practices. Legislative proposals are being considered to strengthen cybersecurity in the healthcare sector.

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Concerns about the Use of AI in Healthcare

With the use of artificial intelligence (AI) across the healthcare spectrum on the rise, concerns have been raised about patient privacy and safety, as well as potential market consolidation. Google, for instance, is deploying its AI in healthcare and its lobbyists are working to influence the rules that govern AI. Lawmakers and experts are worried about Google’s move to corner the market and the reporting requirements that could favor tech giants over startups. In response to these concerns, President Biden has issued an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop a framework for responsible use of AI in healthcare.

Advance Notice Requirements for Health Care Transactions

Several states are also implementing advance notice requirements for health care transactions, which could lead to potential transaction delays or confidential information becoming accessible to the public. New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, California, Illinois, and Minnesota have enacted or are enacting health care transaction reporting requirements. The reporting requirements vary by state and involve submission of a notice of the transaction to the respective state's health department or attorney general. Companies contemplating transactions in these states will need to closely follow the regulations and consult legal counsel to understand the implications.

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