Apr 28, 2011 (01:04 PM EDT)
Electronic Patient Consent System Planned

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An e-patient consent system will soon become reality if the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has its way.

According to a listing on the Federal Business Opportunities website, ONC is currently seeking a vendor to conduct market research that will identify patient concerns as they design an e-consent pilot that will foster patient trust.

To achieve this, the vendor is asked to partner with medical facilities that are exchanging health information electronically, develop a way to obtain patient participation, identify key pieces of information relating to the exchange of health information and patient choice, and evaluate consumer understanding regarding patient consent to share their health information.

The development of an electronic patient consent system is a step that ONC believes will inspire patient trust as their medical records increasingly becomes computerized and electronically exchanged among healthcare professionals.

ONC has made several policy statements on patient privacy, security and control of medical records. In one of its most recent policy documents, The Federal Health Information Technology Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015, the report said: "The benefits of health IT can only be realized if individuals are fully involved in the development of health IT policy and confident that electronic health information is kept private and secure."

To that end, the vendor who wins the contract must devise a way to get patients involved in the development, use, and evaluation of the e-consent system and find innovative ways to inform people of their individual choices in a clinical setting.

ONC also requires the contractor to explore ways of electronically obtaining and recording meaningful and informed choices from individuals in a clinical setting and to find ways to evaluate patient satisfaction.