As more and more people get a health wearables or add smartphone apps that help them track their health, policymakers at all levels of government are trying to figure out how to safeguard that data and ensure privacy. To that end, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has awarded Accenture a new contract that will have them develop health data policy guidelines.
The two-year management consulting contract will establish a framework of best practices for the effective use of patient-generated health data (PGHD) in research and care delivery. Accenture’s work will address policy topics related to PGHD and identify best practices, gaps and opportunities for the collection and use of PGHD. Accenture will also oversee and coordinate pilot projects to test the implementation of topics identified in the policy framework.
PGHD includes a person’s health and treatment history, biometric data, symptoms and lifestyle choices. It is collected directly from patients in many ways – from surveys and structured questionnaires to wearable mobile technology devices including fitness trackers and smart watches.
The award is particularly timely given a recent Wall Street Journal report on the extraordinarily invasive and potentially discriminatory actions of some private companies that are asking technology firms to use personal wellness data to give them information on which employees might get sick or may have become pregnant. Verizon has also released a new version of its data breach report focused specifically on the loss or misuse of this kind of data. According to that report, the emergence of non-HIPPA compliant entities having access health data is leading to an uptick in data breaches of personal health information.
The project is one in a portfolio of projects at ONC that address the data infrastructure needed for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR).
ONC is a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that supports the adoption of health information technology and the promotion of nationwide health information exchange to improve health care.
Accenture has supported ONC through various programs beginning in 2005 on the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN), and since 2010 for the agency’s Standards and Interoperability Framework.