AOH :: IS1605.HTM

Privacy Issue Complicates Push to Link Medical Data

Privacy Issue Complicates Push to Link Medical Data
Privacy Issue Complicates Push to Link Medical Data

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The New York Times
January 17, 2009

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama=E2=80=99s plan to link up doctors and 
hospitals with new information technology, as part of an ambitious 
job-creation program, is imperiled by a bitter, seemingly intractable 
dispute over how to protect the privacy of electronic medical records.

Lawmakers, caught in a crossfire of lobbying by the health care industry 
and consumer groups, have been unable to agree on privacy safeguards 
that would allow patients to control the use of their medical records.

Congressional leaders plan to provide $20 billion for such technology in 
an economic stimulus bill whose cost could top $825 billion.

In a speech outlining his economic recovery plan, Mr. Obama said, =E2=80=9CWe 
will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five 
years all of America=E2=80=99s medical records are computerized.=E2=80=9D Digital 
medical records could prevent medical errors, save lives and create 
hundreds of thousands of jobs, Mr. Obama has said.

So far, the only jobs created have been for a small army of lobbyists 
trying to secure money for health information technology. They say 
doctors, hospitals, drugstores and insurance companies would be much 
more efficient if they could exchange data instantaneously through 
electronic health information networks. Consumer groups and some members 
of Congress insist that the new spending must be accompanied by stronger 
privacy protections in an era when digital data can be sent around the 
world or posted on the Web with the click of a mouse.


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