‘Health Records Privacy’ education campaign launches in California

Non-profit Consumer Action to distribute 75,000 copies of multilingual materials to state’s hard-to-reach residents

Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 202-544-3088; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 415-777-9648

San Francisco, July 8, 2013—As health care providers continue the transition from paper to digital medical records, Consumer Action has launched a statewide campaign to educate California residents about their health records privacy rights. The project, which seeks to reach 100,000 low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking California residents, is funded by a grant from the Rose Foundation. Click here to visit the Health Records Privacy module.

“There is a critical need to reach and educate consumers who are often “under the radar” of traditional services, to provide them with the knowledge they need to feel safe seeking out medical care and sharing vital health information with their providers,” said Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action’s executive director. “With proper training and education, we believe consumers can make informed decisions about the use of their medical data and gain a greater sense of security and trust in our evolving health care system and HIT.”

There are a variety of potential benefits to digitizing patient records, but there are also well-publicized risks to consumer privacy that may keep some patients from making balanced decisions regarding how their medical data is exchanged. In addition, consumers may omit crucial information when being examined by their doctors out of a fear of privacy violations and the risk of medical information being disclosed to employers and other entities.

The goals of the project are:

  • a greater understanding among underserved and hard-to-reach consumers of their health records privacy rights under both federal (HIPAA) and California law;
  • an awareness of steps patients can take to better protect their medical privacy; and
  • increased trust in health information technology through an understanding of how technology can improve medical care while also preserving privacy.

The campaign’s first train-the-trainer roundtable takes place in Rialto (Southern California) on July 10. Additional trainings are scheduled for August 13 in Fresno and August 15 in Oakland. Each four-hour training session, led by Consumer Action’s outreach managers, will prepare representatives of participating local community-based organizations to conduct one-on-one counseling and group presentations and workshops in their communities.

As part of the project, Consumer Action will distribute 75,000 copies of its brochure “Health Records Privacy in California: Protecting your privacy as patient records go digital” in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. These brochures, along with a training module consisting of a lesson plan, PowerPoint presentation, 18-page trainer’s manual and patient wallet card, are available for download by non-profit and government organizations, medical facilities and individuals at no charge (http://www.consumer-action.org/english/library/C407). Non-profit and government agencies can order printed copies at no charge.

Consumer Action’s health records privacy consumer education materials answer these and related questions:

  • What are the benefits and risks of HIT and electronic health records?
  • What are my health records privacy rights?
  • When can the information in my health records be disclosed without my permission?
  • What types of disclosures require my permission?
  • What steps can I take for greater control over how my information is used and disclosed?
  • What can I do if I feel my privacy rights have been violated?

Community-based organizations that would like to join Consumer Action’s network and receive notifications of training events and new publications and training materials should email Consumer Action’s Audrey Perrott, associate director of outreach and training, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.

By providing consumer education materials in multiple languages, a free national hotline, a comprehensive website (www.consumer-action.org) and annual surveys of financial and consumer services, Consumer Action helps consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. Nearly 7,500 community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials and support.

Privacy is one of Consumer Action’s core issues.

About the Rose Foundation

The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment (www.rosefdn.org) is a grant-making public charity based in Oakland, California. Grant-making programs support community-based projects and organizations that are building long-term solutions that benefit people, the environment and the economy.




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