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lachoy (1663)

lachoy
  chris.winters@gmail.com
http://www.cwinters.com/

I am actually Chris Winters; I am actually living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; I am actually married and have three cats. (Guess what one of them is named?) I am the "OpenInteract" guy, which could be good or bad.

Journal of lachoy (1663)

Monday February 13, 2006
04:58 PM

Two paranoid items from HIMSS keynote

[ #28670 ]

This morning Dr. David Brailer, the head of implementing health information technology mandates in the federal government, gave the opening keynote. (There was also a bizarre and corny musical medley -- AT 8:00 IN THE MORNING -- but that's another post...) He was a good speaker, probably because he's given the bulk of his speech many times and talked in front of large groups of people more than most.

But there were two things that made me cringe in the government's-out-to-get-me manner. First, he was discussing the many benefits of HIT infrastructure interoperability and he brought up "bio-surveillance." I understand the desire for it, but it scares the hell out of me.

Later, he earned his small-government brownie points by saying that the "federal government will not build, own or operate the health IT infrastructure." (Broadly, this refers to the centralized storage of electronic medical records.) He's not saying that someone shouldn't own it, just that it shouldn't be the federal government. Given so many security breakdowns by private industry, or outright privacy violations by companies looking to make a buck on private information, this does not give me comfort. (NB: I don't know enough about the subject yet to know whether all the downsides of centralization outweigh the upsides.)

Posted from cwinters.com; read original

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  • First, he was discussing the many benefits of HIT infrastructure interoperability and he brought up "bio-surveillance." I understand the desire for it, but it scares the hell out of me.

    What, specifically, is so scary?

    As I understand it, in the state of Massachusetts, public health monitoring is using Victorian-era monitoring techniques. Each county's public health office periodically gathers up reports of "interesting" cases, which are accumulated weekly and sent back to the State public health o

    • I didn't explain: it's not surveillance like the CDC would do, it's surveillance like the Department of Homeland Security would do. (I didn't get the exact wording of his statement, sorry.)

      On a separate note: I can't believe how much money being poured into electronic health records. Well, I can believe it (there are no shortages of boondoggles in the world) but I'd be very, very surprised if we hit Bush's milestone of nationwide records by 2014.

      • I didn't explain: it's not surveillance like the CDC would do, it's surveillance like the Department of Homeland Security would do.

        Sorry, but I still don't understand what's so scary. CDC needs to be on top of the public health response if, say, there was a smallpox outbreak. But DHS also needs to be hyper-aware about many of the same situations. Doubly so when you start to hear about some of the plans afoot to mobilize the Army/Nat'l Guard to quarantine a locality (like, say, Haskell County, KS [npr.org])

        • Yeah, you're probably right. I think I had my tinfoil anti-Big Brother hat on at the time.

          And I don't think the 10 year timespan is super secret :-) Every president wants to issue an edict as inspirational as JFK's "10 years to the moon", the problem is that they generally don't follow it up with money so it's just another hollow speech.