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LOUIS HARRIS & ASSOCIATES TO CONDUCT HEALTH CARE PRIVACY SURVEY

 NEW YORK, May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Louis Harris and Associates announced that, in collaboration with Dr. Alan F. Westin of Columbia University, it will conduct next month a national survey of public attitudes on a wide range of health-care information privacy and confidentiality issues raised by the increasing need for shared information using computer technologies, health identity cards, integrated data systems and national health care reform.
 Commissioned by Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX), the survey will address the key tensions between individual privacy interests and the uses of personal medical information in the administration of health care.
 Humphrey Taylor, CEO of Louis Harris and Associates, said: "This survey will be conducted at that time the presidential task force on health-care system reform presents its recommendations. We expect to provide valuable input to the policy-making process on how to insure privacy of personal medical records while also using high-quality health information to reduce costs and improve the quality of care in a rapidly changing health care system."
 Medical records contain information that individuals rightly consider highly sensitive and whose improper disclosure could harm individuals in the conduct of social relationships and business and financial opportunities. At the same time, medical information is needed to support medical care payment by insurance and government programs, for quality-of-care determination, for fraud reduction, development of professional-practice guidelines, and for creation of reliable data for cost-control efforts.
 Westin, author of the seminal work on privacy, "Privacy and Freedom" (1967), noted that "None of the recent surveys on health care reform has dealt with the key privacy issues that will need to be addressed strongly and well if the public is to accept greater circulation and use of medical records. This survey will explore in depth what the public expects health care reformers to do by way of privacy protection."
 Survey topics include (1) the levels of trust Americans have in institutions that use their medical information; (2) experiences individuals have had with uses of such information; (3) attitudes about the use of their medical information for various needs in health care administration and reform; (4) privacy-protection safeguards; (5) the need for federal or state level medical-privacy legislation; (6) individual rights to access their own medical records; (7) employer access to personal medical information; (8) how attitudes toward privacy correlate with attitudes toward health care reform, and similar topics.
 C.B. Rogers Jr., chairman and CEO of Equifax, said: "Equifax currently has a portfolio of services relating to health care which includes hospital bill auditing, accounts receivable management, claims administration, physical examinations and analytical services. Each area brings us into contact with personal medical information. As a company deeply concerned with information privacy, Equifax has a two-pronged objective: to understand fully the privacy concerns of individuals and to ensure that our policies and practices with respect to the uses and protections of personal medical information are unimpeachable."
 Rogers added: "This survey will be the fourth in a series of annual surveys sponsored by Equifax that address the privacy concerns of the American public. Equifax is proud to contribute in this way to the national dialogue on these important issues."
 The survey respondents will include the American public, health care providers, insurers, professional association executives, and government policy makers. In preparation for the survey, Westin will hold consultations in May with health care professionals, government officials, consumer and civil liberties groups, health insurers and other interested parties.
 The survey field work will be conducted in June and July, and the results and analysis of the public and leadership surveys will be released in early October at a national conference on privacy and health information to be held in Washington.
 -0- 5/5/93
 /CONTACT: Ron Bass of Louis Harris and Associates, 212-698-9643; Alan Westin of Columbia University, 201-996-1154; or John Ford of Equifax, 404-885-8309/
 (EFX)


CO: Louis Harris and Associates; Equifax Inc. ST: New York IN: SU:

BN-BR -- AT012 -- 4980 05/05/93 15:07 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 5, 1993
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