The days of doctors mailing or faxing patient records back and forth — which raises significant concerns about patient privacy — will end in the coming years thanks to Inpriva, a Fort Collins-based company. Inpriva is part of a national team developing a highly secure Internet-based system designed to quickly exchange patient information between doctors, all while assuring patient privacy.
Inpriva’s technology essentially brings the healthcare industry into the Internet age by creating an encrypted and completely private Internet “highway” that links providers together. Inpriva’s technology is so secure that government officials recently relied on the company’s health information network services during the nation’s first real-time, Internet-based exchange of patient information in Rhode Island, where a primary care physician sent a private , encrypted referral to a consulting specialist.
During a press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C. announcing the success of the Rhode Island pilot project and another in Minnesota, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and several health care companies lauded Inpriva and other health information-technology firms involved in the pilot projects. Additional pilot programs will be launched soon in New York, Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and California.
“Inpriva is among a few select firms across the country working with the Department of Health and Human Services to package the content of doctors’ messages, secure the information and transport it from a sender to a recipient,” said Don Jorgenson, Inpriva’s chief executive officer who launched the company in 2002.
“We create and manage InterHealthNet gateways, passing patient information through an extremely secure health care-focused Internet highway,” Jorgenson added. “Our technology is very distinct because it can deliver all types of digital patient record systems, send the info to a centralized health information exchange system and then ensure the records are sent from the exchange to a specified, trusted recipient. In a nutshell, we ensure the safe, private transfer of confidential patient information across the Internet from one office to another.”
Dr. David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology in the Health and Human Services department, said, “Other efforts also are going forward at full-throttle to build a comprehensive structure of health information exchange,” he added. “By bringing together health care and IT companies, including competitors, to rapidly produce a system that supports basic clinical delivery and public health needs, we will be able to more quickly start building electronic information exchange into our health care system.”
Inpriva developers are adamant the system will be both secure and private. No personally identifiable information will be in the header associated with patient records being sent, and attachments only can be opened by the intended recipient.
Once the electronic health record systems and health information exchanges are in place, patients moving across the country or just seeing a new physician across town can have their records quickly and securely sent electronically. When doctors request medical tests for patients, they will send their request through the secure exchange instead of faxing or emailing the request.
According to the New York Times, the U.S. government will offer billions of dollars in planned incentive payments to health care providers over the next five years to spur the adoption of electronic patient records. “But the investment will pay off only if the data is shared,” the article states, “so everyone in the health care system — including patients — can make smarter decisions about care and preventive health measures.”