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Global news

I’ve got some international items on the agenda today:

First off, did anyone catch the big “oops” in Australia this week that knocked out telecommunications services across the state of Queensland? Apparently, a backhoe at a construction site cut a cable that took phone lines down statewide, and a major backup system failed as well. The outage reportedly affected phone calls in and out of a number of regional hospitals, but what was not reported was whether any health IT infrastructure was affected. Perhaps that’s a problem in and of itself.

A couple of weeks ago, a health trust in Scotland had to declare a “data amnesty” to encourage employees to return a misplaced USB drive that reportedly contained the health records of 137 patients. Left unanswered is why the records were not secured before being transferred to the portable drive.

I hopefully will be reporting some international health IT news in a couple of weeks, as I’ve been invited to attend one week of the Rockefeller Foundation‘s “Making the eHealth Connection” conferences in Bellagio, Italy. Consider this a solicitation to editors looking for coverage of EHR and mobile-health issues in developing countries.

July 16, 2008 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Another black eye for EHRs

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Sitting in my hotel room the night before the end of TEPR, I just received an article from NextGov, a publication I had not been familiar with, but which seems to have a good amount of health IT coverage. (I might have to pitch some ideas of my own the editor.)

This particular story is alarmingly headlined: “Cyber criminals overseas steal U.S. electronic health records” According to the report, “medical records are a ‘platinum card’ for organized crime, which can rake in millions of dollars from false billings, said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum.”

Another source is quoted as saying stolen U.S. health data, including diagnoses, medical histories, prescriptions, insurance information and Social Security numbers, was found on a Russian-registered server in Malaysia.

Happy reading!

As for TEPR, the conference itself is really small, particularly when compared to the last time in Fort Lauderdale in 2004, when David Brailer delivered his first major speech as national health IT coordinator, and the opening session also included Bill “Dr. HIPAA” Braithwaite and the legendary Dr. Larry Weed.

This year’s conference has been truncated from four days to three, and Cerner and NextGen are among the vendors who are conspicuously absent from the trade show. In fact, Mark Anderson’s AC Group had a bigger booth than McKesson.

For that matter, Google not only was not here, the company held its own event on the opposite coast on Monday to launch Google Health.

However, the educational presentations I’ve been to have been very good, though the compressed schedule means that some time slots had two dozen concurrent sessions, so I missed a few I would have liked to have seen.

I recorded a new podcast here on Tuesday, and hope to have it up soon.

May 20, 2008 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Politics and healthcare

Here are just a couple of links for the politically minded.

First off, the Kaiser Family Foundation has put up a site with health-related news about the many, many candidates for president in 2008.

And the Healthcare Update News Service, mostly a compendium of press releases from various companies that also has weekly updates from Health Affairs, has posted video of a March 28 speech by the always-entertaining Bill “Dr. HIPAA” Braithwaite from the Fourth Health Information Technology Summit on privacy and security issues that may hold back health information exchange. I saw the speech live, and I think it’s worth the 33 minutes. Even if you don’t have that much time, you can skip to the “chapters” most of interest, much like watching a DVD.

Quick links:
KFF 2008 politics site
Braithwaite speech on privacy and security issues

July 16, 2007 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.