Healthcare IT Reform with Secretary Daschle?

Senator Tom Daschle was appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services by President-Elect Barack Obama last month. Even if you are a technology geek who doesn’t care for politics, it is important to note that Daschle has advocated expanding health information technology as part of a comprehensive health reform program.

In his book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis,” Daschle proposes that the executive branch of the federal government should promote the creation of an IT infrastructure for health information. He believes that healthcare information technology can be leveraged to reform our country’s current healthcare woes.

While I agree that this country is sorely in need of healthcare reform, I view this news with trepidation as this country is struggling to secure and defend our existing national IT infrastructures. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1996, but little progress has been made towards the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers.

If the United States is going to create an IT infrastructure for health information, the HIPPA provisions for the security and privacy of health data must be articulated much more granulated fashion than they are now.

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