The Future of Research Using Electronic Medical Records Data

Houston Medical Times October 2015

Amy K. Dow and Mark S. Armstrong, Members of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, authored an article in the “Legal Health” column of the Houston Medical Times, titled “The Future of Research Using Electronic Medical Records Data.”

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full article in PDF format - see page 3):

One thing’s certain – the vast and growing supply of data contained in electronic medical records systems will play a significant role in improving the speed and efficiency of research into new treatments in the years to come. The challenge will be striking an appropriate balance between the unquestionable promise of this data to enable research – research that will enhance available treatments and save lives – with the rights of individual patients in the privacy of their health information. Attempts to strike that balance are at the heart of current legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives that will shape the manner and extent to which this valuable resource will be used in the future.

Included in the 21st Century Cures legislation that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives are changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) intended to expand access to patient health records for research purposes. Specifically, subject to certain requirements, the changes permit use and disclosure of protected health information (“PHI”) by covered entities for research purposes and remove the prohibition on remote access by a researcher to PHI.