Online resource debuts covering federal and state healthcare laws

Health Information and the Law, a new website developed by researchers at George Washington University (GWU)'s Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program, launched May 23 with a focus on federal and state laws pertaining to health information.

The site, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the Legal Barriers project, offers listings and comparative analysis of regulations and laws relating to health information exchange, the shift to EMRs, confidentiality, HITECH, the Affordable Care Act and HIPAA, among other areas.

“The laws are very opaque to a lot of people and difficult to navigate, and we wanted to create a resource that would translate laws themselves and complicated issues for people on the ground who are trying navigate them," said Lara Cartwright-Smith, co-director of the Legal Barriers project and assistant research professor in the GWU Department of Health Policy.

The project has "a multi-aim," explained Jane Hyatt Thorpe, also a co-director of the Legal Barriers project and associate research professor at the GW Department of Health Policy. "We’re hoping to help the activities going on at the local, regional and state level in terms of community organizations and other organizations working to transform care delivery.”

Cartwright-Smith added that the audience may consist of policymakers as well as "individual providers, consumers or organizations trying to implement health reforms and [who] need to know the laws pertaining to them."

Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at GWU's School of Public Health and Health Services, noted her view of the site's significance: "Health information law exists at the intersection of many crucial and related fields: law, healthcare, public health, market competition, consumer protection, information technology and health insurance. A modest change in any of these fields can trigger a daunting set of issues and challenges. offers keys to understanding the laws that govern health information and their implications for healthcare, consumer rights and population health."

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