Confidentiality of Individually Identifiable Health Information. III. Conclusion


Thomas Jefferson said: "Our laws and institutions must keep pace with the progress of the human mind." We believe that these recommendations should be the first -- not the last -- chapter in an on-going bipartisan process to safeguard our citizens' right to health care privacy in an ever-changing world.

Ultimately, we must judge ourselves by whether we leave the next generation with real federal privacy standards grounded in fundamental principles. Will we have boundaries to ensure that, with very few exceptions, our health care information is used only for health care? Will we have assurances that our information is secure? Will we have knowledge about and control over what happens to our health care records? Will those who violate our privacy be held accountable -- and those who are violated be able to seek redress? Will we be able to safeguard our privacy rights while still protecting our core public responsibilities like research, public health , and law enforcement?

In short, will we be able to harness these revolutions in biology, communications, and health care delivery to breath new life into the trust between our patients and their doctors, between our citizens and their government, between our past and our future. We can. And, if we work together and act quickly, we will.