Against Nationalized Medical Records

Amanda Rohn criticizes President Bush's call for nationalized electronic medical records and makes the case for private provision.

The task is daunting, but this is not the first time such a project has been tackled: the Internet itself is a collection of many separate information systems. Although the U.S. government played a major role in its initiation, independent agencies took a leading role in developing standards, which were then adopted voluntarily by interested organizations.

Indeed, technology already exists to solve many potential issues: we can control access with passwords or biometrics, provide automatic error-checking, and encrypt data. Private companies are constantly working to come up with new solutions; after all, private companies don't want to violate privacy regulations or harm patients.

Different internet service providers send and receive information back and forth. Different web-browsers can interpret html code. Various email clients can read the same email messages sent from various parts of the world. Why can't different medical record companies exchange information in a similar manner? The "single standard" argument for nationalized medical records is highly overrated.

As for privacy, I more easily trust a private company, such as a credit card comany, with sensitive information. It works for a profit and has incentives to uphold privacy. The US government has a history of demonstrating that it does not value privacy, nor does it suffer for violating it.

See also, "Free Market Electronic Medical Records" by my co-blogger Trent McBride.

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The same arguments work as a

The same arguments work as a means to discredit a National ID Card too (something which the government appears to be trying to sneak past us right now).

What bug crawled up Bush's ass re: this matter anyway? :end:

Dubya is all about control,

Dubya is all about control, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding. His has been a drumbeat march of increased federal oversight & prerogative claims (not necessarily an active regualtion, but reserving the right to intervene at the discretion of the Executive, which is worse in my book). I expect no less from him.

Exactly. One of my primary

Exactly. One of my primary concerns is that government-mandated standards are likely to be written in such a way as to make government access to the information easier.

Well, I work for the largest

Well, I work for the largest consumer information company in the world. I too would love to see private companies handle private medical information, rather than the government. The problem is, there's a concerted effort right now to portray companies as slimy exploiters who either don't care about your security or are willing to knowingly sell it for profit. Certainly, many companies have problems -- witness the travails of one of our some-times competitor, Choicepoint.

Note the request for federal regulation of this industry. That means us. :) If public opinion calls for more federal regulation of companies that only handle commercial data, there's no way on earth they're going to let private companies handle stuff covered by HIPAA. :(

Why can’t different medical record companies exchange information in a similar manner?

We take data in thousands of different formats (from all the major credit card companies, hundreds of retail, financial and industrial firms) and make them compatible. I realize that medical records are quite complex, but if we can do it, so could private medical information firms.

It's the same model. Hospitals want accurate medical information to make good medical decisions. You want them to have it, so they make good decisions about you. A 3rd party medical information company provides (after a waiver from you) your complete and total medical "package" to the hospital. After your treatment, the additional data is uploaded back to the 3rd party. This creates an optimal motivation -- all 3 parties are financially motivated to keep your information private, and to make the accurate information available to the people who need to know, like the hospital's doctors. We operate on this model (with commercial data) every day.