Yesterday, CDT issued comments to the Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) on a report from a White House advisory council that outlines a vision for achieving a digital health care system. The report – authored by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) – makes several technical recommendations to enable the electronic exchange of health information. Although the PCAST report offers a compelling direction for the national effort to modernize the health care system with health IT, the PCAST report does not address some of the important policy questions that should guide technological choices.
The PCAST Report
One major recommendation in the PCAST report is metadata tagging. PCAST envisions affixing standardized, mandatory metadata tags to individual elements of health data. The metadata tags are essentially annotations that are tethered to the health data and contain information about the health data. According to PCAST, the metadata tags would include attributes of the health data, such as where the data was created, and also any privacy permissions the patient applied to the health data.
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