Sunday, February 15, 2009

Online Health Data in Remission

Anita Huslin writes in The Washington Post:

The $19 billion prescribed in Congress's economic stimulus package to bring America's health-care records into the electronic age is a welcome opportunity for information technology firms seeking to build market share in a still-young industry.

Although the federal government set a goal five years ago of creating an electronic health record for every American by 2014, the effort has lagged for several reasons. Roadblocks include concerns over lack of universal protocols for collecting data as well as rules that establish how, with whom and under what circumstances the data can be shared. Many health-care providers -- physician practices, testing facilities, hospitals and clinics -- fear liability if private information gets into the wrong hands. Embedded in all these issues is the cost, an estimated $150 billion, which has proven to be a significant barrier to that 2014 target.

Few expect the new spending to change things immediately. "The incentives for doctors and hospitals to use these tools have months of regulatory processes to go through," said David Brailer, former head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, created under the Bush administration to establish standards for the collection and use of electronic medical records. "I don't think doctors will go out tomorrow and buy electronic records because there is a little bit of money coming."

More here.

Note: Let's hope not. In fact, without the proper digital protection being in place, unauthorized access to sensitive medical information could be just as damaging -- or perhaps even more so -- than unauthorized access to any other private & sensitive information (think Social Security numbers, financial data, etc.), as the good folks over at Personal Health Information Privacy Blog continually remind us. -ferg


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