Challenges and Opportunites in Healthcare IT

IEEE Security & Privacy Healthcare IT coverIEEE Security & Privacy magazine's latest issue takes on some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities in Healthcare IT. To address health IT's unique security and privacy issues, researchers study ways to improve record accuracy, encryption techniques to conceal information in transit, anonymization to permit distribution of health data without revealing identities, access control policies to enforce who sees what, and more. The results are detailed in the articles below:

Securing Information Technology in Healthcare
Information technology has great potential to improve healthcare quality and efficiency and thus has been a major focus of recent US healthcare reform efforts. However, developing, deploying, and using IT that is both secure and genuinely effective in the complex clinical, organizational, and economic environment of healthcare are significant challenges. Read more

Point/Counterpoint: Health Data
Health data in US electronic health record (EHR) systems is controlled not by patients but by data holders: insurers, data clearinghouses, hospitals, physicians, and technology vendors. We learn that our data will be disclosed to hidden third parties from Notices of Privacy Practices. Read more

Electronic Medical Records: Confidentiality, Care, and Epidemiology
Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are expected to improve patient care, save staff time, and support epidemiological research. For these and other reasons, the Affordable Care Act requires that all US patients have an EMR by 2014. Approximately US$35 billion will be spent to support doctors' and medical facilities' installation of records systems, with a criterion of achieving "meaningful use" in actual practice. Unfortunately, EMRs in the US suffer from not only implementation problems but also policy decisions about their privacy that might impede both patient care and medical progress. Read more

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Nonconfidential Patient Types in Emergency Clinical Decision Support
The ability to explore similar patients' diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes might help physicians with differential diagnosis and treatment planning. However, because of privacy concerns, getting access to individual patient records is difficult within a hospital and seems almost impossible for researchers outside the firewall. Read more

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