Regarding the Privacy Implications of the Proposed National Health Information Network (NHIN)


The proposed National Health Information Network embodies a presidential mandate to bring information technology to healthcare by making complete patient records available to providers, regardless of location.

In responding to the questions asked in the RFI, we will discuss matters of privacy and security, and also whether standardization of healthcare information may ultimately be detrimental to patient treatment.

Privacy Rights and the Marketing of Confidential Medical Information: Questions and Answers on the Case of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) v. Albertsons


Albertsons collects its customers’ confidential medical information by surreptitiously reviewing customer prescriptions - required to be kept confidential and used only as authorized by the patient - and creates a retrievable database including customer addresses, phone numbers and drug regimen. The information is made available for use to satisfy pharmaceutical companies willing to pay Albertsons to fulfill drug marketing objectives. The result is unsolicited mailings and/or phone calls directed at consumers attempting to convince them to buy more or different medications.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Files Lawsuit Charging Albertsons Violates Privacy of Pharmacy Customers


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC), a San Diego-based nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization, today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court charging supermarket giant Albertsons and its pharmacy units, SavOn, Osco, and Jewel-Osco, with violating the privacy rights of thousands of its customers by illegally using their confidential prescription information to conduct targeted marketing campaigns on behalf of drug companies.

Have You Received Unsolicited Marketing Letters or Phone Calls Regarding Your Personal Prescriptions? Tell us!


Some patients who get their prescriptions filled through supermarket pharmacies and chain drug stores such as Albertson's, Walgreens, RiteAid, SavOn and CVS may be surprised to get a solicitation in the mail that looks like a friendly reminder to refill their prescription.

If you've received a solicitation in the mail or a phone call from your pharmacy or a marketer working on behalf of the pharmacy suggesting that you switch to another brand of drug or that you talk to your doctor about a refill, please let us know.

Study Shows Most Online Pharmacies Lack HIPAA Privacy Notice


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC)1, along with readability expert Mark Hochhauser, Ph.D., is writing to call your attention to a recent survey of online pharmacies, and, in particular, the failure of most sites to post a HIPAA Privacy Notice.

In conducting this survey, Dr. Hochhauser visited 50 online pharmacy web sites. Of the 50, only 11 sites (22%) included a HIPAA Privacy Notice. The 11 sites that had a HIPAA privacy notice also posted a web site privacy policy.

Survey Finds Most Online Pharmacies Do Not Give HIPAA Privacy Notices


Readability consultant Mark Hochhauser, Ph.D., in cooperation with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, conducted a survey of 50 online pharmacy web sites from mid-April through July 9, 2004. Of the 50, a scant 11 sites (22%) included a HIPAA privacy notice as required by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the federal medical privacy rule.

Comments Regarding the Use of Personal Medical Data by Financial Institutions


The proposed rule generally prohibits a creditor from obtaining and using medical information for making decisions about a consumer's credit eligibility. The rule then makes an exception that allows creditors to obtain and use financial information that happens to be related to medical debts, expenses and income.

Compliance vs. Communication: Readability of HIPAA Notices (Hochhauser)


In April 2003, patients in the US began receiving Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy notices from their doctors, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other "covered entities" that use their personal health information. As part of the HIPAA regulatory guidelines, privacy notices were to be written in "plain language." They are not.

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