Monday, June 15, 2009

Of Hospitals, Health and Private Information

Much has been made in the media recently concerning the waste of taxpayers money related to the move towards Electronic Medical Records. Couple the potential for a fiscal boondoggle with the threat of a large scale privacy invasion by the government and we have much to be concerned about.

OSCAR users believe that we have the solution - freely licensed, government certified, standards based, and highly secure open source.

Vancouver Sun June 15, 2009 2:06 AM

Many doctors have grave concerns about the privacy implications of large centralized government databases containing people's detailed personal health information. Many doctors are also excited about the potential for improved patient care with the use of electronic medical records.

The United Kingdom has spent more than £13 billion centralizing patient records in government databases. It has been an acknowledged fiasco.

In a 2008 British Medical Association poll, nine out of 10 doctors said they don't trust the government with patient data security.

What can we do, instead, to gain the benefits of technology without spiralling costs and privacy violations?

In Canada, huge savings to taxpayers could be achieved with the use of the free open-source medical-record software developed at McMaster University, known as OSCAR.

In collaboration with Harvard and MIT, OSCAR has also developed MyOSCAR, an open-source personally controlled health record (PHR) that lets doctors securely "push" information like lab reports and clinical summaries from their electronic office records to a patient's PHR. The patient can log into his or her PHR from home or when seeing a specialist.

With PHRs, patients become the custodians of their key cradle-to-grave medical information.

Why are we spending millions of tax dollars on proprietary software when there is open- source software that does as much, or more? Why aren't we looking at alternatives like PHRs for the long-term storage of personal health information?

The good news is that more and more doctors have asked these questions and decided that OSCAR makes more sense.

David Chan, MD

Associate professor of family medicine and director of information technology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont.


Walker said...

How about scanning all of the existing paper records? Wouldn't that be a logical first step to protecting patient privacy?

Adrian Midgley said...

That seems orthogonal to privacy concerns.

It also looks like spam.

I think the NPfIT disaster in the UK hasn't actually spent that much, but the firms involved may end up losing a great deal, and the biggest expense is the opportunity cost, with sensible things being held up and progress being blocked.