Chief Privacy Officer: ‘We Are All Responsible for Privacy and Security’

At the AHIMA Annual Convention & Exhibit, Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, called for all parties in the healthcare system to share responsibility for the privacy and security of a patient’s health information. In her keynote address, Pritts said it is the obligation of not only patients and providers, but vendors, HIM professional and the federal government to be active participants when it comes to protecting personal health information.

Joy Pritts Addresses General Session at AHIMA’s Convention

CHICAGO – Oct. 1, 2012 – Joy Pritts, the chief privacy officer in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, called for all parties in the healthcare system to create a culture where the privacy and security of a patient’s health information is a shared responsibility: from patients, to providers, to vendors, to Health Information Management (HIM) professionals to the federal government.

Pritts delivered her speech Monday morning during the opening session of AHIMA’s 84th Annual Convention and Exhibit at McCormick Place.

The explosive growth in electronic health records – more than 300,000 providers will start using the tool – gives patients increased access to and responsibility for their personal health information.

“This will be a huge change for people; more and more, individuals will be central participants in their own healthcare,” Pritts said

“The only way to do that is for them to have access to their own information and understand their rights and responsibilities for securing it once they receive it.”

Pritts said healthcare providers need to set their organization’s tone on privacy and security issues.

“(They) should care about protecting the patient’s health information in the same way as the patient’s physical well being,” she said. “It’s about real people, and it’s really important.”

Pritts said privacy and security training should be ongoing and a key part of the overall strategic plan. She urged providers to put privacy and security at the forefront when building their EHR systems rather than risking the expensive consequences of a breach.

“Securing health information is not only good for the patient but good for business,” Pritts said.

“This is a transformative time in the world of HIM and we were honored to have Joy Pritts here to frame the issues involved in the privacy and security of health records, a topic that touches every aspect of healthcare,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA.

The ONC’s Office of the Chief Privacy Officer and the AHIMA Foundation recently collaborated on the ““Guide to Privacy and Security of Health Information” which is designed to teach healthcare professionals about the roles of privacy and security in EHRs and in Meaningful Use. Pritts noted the instructional guide has garnered extremely positive feedback.


Representing more than 64,000 specially educated Health Information Management professionals in the United States and around the world, the American Health Information Management Association is committed to promoting and advocating for high quality research, best practices and effective standards in health information and to actively contributing to the development and advancement of health information professionals worldwide. AHIMA’s enduring goal is quality healthcare through quality information.