What Health Care Reform Means for Privacy and Technology

The health care bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president will speed the proliferation of online medical histories. Not a lot of people remember this, but former President George W. Bush also envisioned and advocated that every American should eventually have an online Personal Health Record (PHR). A PHR would contain all of the data from every health care provider, clinic, or hospital that a patient ever visited.

The servers that host this data will require constant monitoring to ensure that the data is safe, secure, and continually accessible to patients, health care providers, and other authorized individuals.

Security will be a big concern because many PHRs will probably be stored on commercial Web sites, and some of these host sites might have business relationships with drug companies or other parties with a financial interest in a patient's personal health data.

It's a complicated picture that will take years to become clear in all its dimensions. But we can be sure that with the coming changes in our national health care system and the migration of patient data to the Internet, there will be a wide range of issues requiring Web monitoring and security to ensure patients' privacy is adequately protected, and health care providers have consistent and secure access to the information they need to provide optimal treatment.


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