China will intensify efforts to ensure the health privacy of patients while encouraging the integration of healthcare services with internet technologies to provide better services, China's top health authority said.
"Health authorities have strict and specific regulations for hospitals over the maintenance and use of patients' paper records and other information, and we are researching how to ensure the security of their electronic data," Jiao Yahui, deputy chief for medical administration and supervision at the National Health Commission, said at a news conference.
The commission is also working with experts in legal affairs, information and hospital management to decide the proprietorship of patients' electronics records, so it would be clear who will be able to use such data and in what way, she said.
Hospitals must set up special technical departments to build and operate information systems concerning patients' electronics data, and such data must be preserved for at least 15 years for outpatients and at least 30 years for inpatients, according to a national regulation adopted by the National Health Commission on April 1.
Electronic records are widely used in Chinese hospitals, but such data are generally not shared between hospitals.
"Hospitals and health authorities should improve protection mechanisms regarding patients' data," said Liu Yuhong, director of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital's information department. "Protection of patients' privacy and data privacy should also be the key consideration for software developers," he said.
Sun Yang, president of China-Japan Friendship Hospital, which has more than half of its outpatients come from outside Beijing, said the hospital has been linked with nearly 3,000 medical institutions across China to provide them with guidance in diagnosis and treatment.
This saves patients time and money and they do not have to come to the hospital for high quality treatment, he said.