Google, Microsoft execs criticize Obama's EHR plan

Top executives at Google and Microsoft sharply questioned the structure of the Obama administration’s $20 billion health information technology plan at a meeting of a presidential technology council on Thursday.

[…] [David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology] emphasized the importance of ensuring patient privacy in a national health system and said unless there is a guarantee of privacy a national electronic health record system “will not happen.” But Blumenthal did not provide details.

[John Glaser, previously the CIO at the Boston regional hospital group Partners Health and a Blumenthal adviser] agreed, and said for any health IT plan to work “we must preserve the trust of the patient.”

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“Preserve the trust of the patient?”  How about “earn it” first?  Why should patients trust any system where their informed consent is not required before their data is shared with others?  The notion of de-identified data has been fairly thoroughly trounced by those who have shown that it is relatively easy to re-identify data.

I’m really tired of big business and market forces whittling away at privacy so they can mine our health records or health data so that they can make more profits.   Why, oh why, can’t we have a blanket prohibition that based on the age-old principle of confidentiality belonging to the patient, says “Thou shalt not share any information without the patient’s express written and informed consent?”   I think that those who are trying to turn the conversation away from the notion of consent are doing so because genuine “control” really requires consent, and the kinds of “control” they may be talking about are not the kinds of control patient privacy advocates talk about.   HITECH may be an improvement over what was, but it simply does not go far enough in terms of protecting the privacy of personal health information.

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