Friday, June 28, 2013

Dartmouth Expert: Snowden Incident Could Happen in Health Care

One of the central tenets of Obamacare was a full-court press to electronify (it's a technical term) the private health care records of each and every American. This digitization effort occurred under the guise of cost savings, but recent incidents involving the IRS and Edward Snowden make clear that government has an insatiable appetite for data. After all, data translates into power and leverage over the individual.

At Health Care IT News, Diana Manos explores Snowden's impact on EMR (Electronic Medical Records).

Deborah Peel, MD, founder of Patient Privacy Rights, says there are many parallels between the Snowden controversy and the U.S. healthcare system... "Corporations and their employees that steal or sell Americans' health data for 'research' or 'public health' uses or for 'data analytics' without patients' consent or knowledge are rewarded with millions in profits; they don't have to flee the country to avoid jail or charges of espionage," she said.

"The NSA justifies its actions using the war on terror," Peel added. "The Department of Health and Human Services claims its actions are justified to lower healthcare costs. These are obviously very different agencies collecting different kinds of very sensitive personal information, but both set up hidden, extremely intrusive surveillance systems that violate privacy rights and destroy trust in government."

"The benefits of technology can be reaped in all sectors of our economy without the harms if we restore/update our laws to assure privacy of personally identifiable information in electronic systems. Our ethics, principles, and fundamental rights should be applied to the uses of technology," Peel says.

David Kotz, associate dean of faculty for the sciences and professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, says the Snowden incident could also happen in healthcare... "It's certainly conceivable that a technically savvy person, intent on snooping into individual health records, leaking them to unauthorized groups, or mining them for medical identity theft (a growing problem), might seek employment in an organization that provides healthcare (such as a major hospital) or in an organization that supports healthcare (such as billing-support agency or an insurance provider) simply to get 'insider' access to those records and then mis-use that access for nefarious purposes..."

Frankly, I'd worry about the threat of an authoritarian government misusing the data more than an insider or other malicious private actor.

Under Obama, the IRS, the EPA, HHS, the DOJ, and scores of other departments, offices and agencies of the unelected fourth branch of government -- the massive administrative state -- have been caught targeting the political opposition.

It is a certainty that our private health care records will be exposed to unscrupulous parties and used to punish Obama's political opponents.

Which is why, for starters, we should only support candidates who will defund the IRS and institute a flat tax or the Fair Tax. Nuke the budget of the IRS: it's the only way to be sure.

Hat tip: BadBlue Tech News Portal.


Redwine said...

My son, who is a systems analyst for a major healthcare provider, agrees that it is very easy to compromise the records of many hospitals and medical centers. That the IRS and other politically motivated federal agencies and their bureaucrats with privileged access to the healthcare, financial and other personal records of millions of US citizens is dangerous and downright criminal.

Anonymous said...

The ultimate result of government control of health records will be that health records will never be accurate again.People are simply not going to tell doctors anything they don't want available in public.Treatment and trust in the medical profession will end if this stands.The government is now about to force the medical profession into an inefficient,untrustworthy governmental model,or the medical profession will wise up and become a black market information system,with the real records held secretly by actual patient centered doctors,and a false record in the government's hands.