The Health & Human Services Department has enlisted a private public relations firm to persuade Americans that health information technology systems will protect their personal health information. The contract will pay Ketchum $26 million to devise the public education campaign, reports Government Health IT.
The award acknowledges that the transition from paper to electronic records requires buy-in from two large constituent groups, one of which has largely been ignored.
Until now, much of the action has focused on persuading doctors to embrace electronic health records and the electronic exchange of medical information, primarily in the form of billions of dollars in incentives. The PR campaign led by Ketchum will focus on the other half of the equation.
The incipient health IT revolution is, at bottom, an initiative to improve communication among patients and players in the health care infrastructure. The promise is to improve care and control costs through the elimination of paper, reduction in medical errors, better diagnoses, evidence-based medicine, more efficacious treatments, pay for performance, etc.
Privacy activists have long held that patients would shun health IT unless they were certain that systems ensured the privacy and security of personal information.