Identity-theft hazards loom in electronic medical records

From Martin Ethridgehill

Over the last few years I have observed conversations and information regarding the need for electronic health information and electronic medical records on a national scale. The information to date has seemed very promising and enabling; however, I am concerned that with the rush to implement, we as a nation may overlook some items that I feel are necessary safety and security protocols.

ADVERTISEMENT
Currently, if people are victims of medical identity theft they have a great deal of “proving” to do before anyone will help them. In addition, there is a great deal of existing proof that even after the hospitals and creditors have been satisfied of the remedy, there exists the long-term danger of “tainted” information.

When a person is the victim of identity theft and medical care is provided, entries are made and claims are filed with the insurance payer. In an all-electronic world each entity would be making entries into a system that is universal in nature. While this may aid in the proper delivery of care, it can also aid in the delivery of improper care that could result in long-term injury and death.

There are currently several systems providers that deliver a type of “patient profile” that is based on previous claims data. If the real patient’s data is co-mingled with data from a “false patient” (a person who used someone else’s insurance information), the provider attempting to deliver no-voice, no-vote care in an emergency situation may actually rely on information that does not accurately represent the person in their emergency room.

Over the last several months I have heard and read where executives from several companies are talking down safety protocols and mitigation as nothing more than hurdles and obstacles to improving healthcare information delivery. I believe this to be self-serving and disingenuous.

I have a passion for healthcare delivery and believe that people should receive nothing but the best leadership in this matter from all levels of government.

Albuquerque, N.M.


Republicans’ negativity stinks


From Victor Kamber, president
of coalition services, Carmen Group

Economists and politicians continue to compare the Great Depression with the current economic crisis. One thing FDR had going for him that President Obama doesn’t: bipartisan support from Congress. You can look it up.

In 1933, the Republican Party was as tarnished by the Hoover administration as it is today by the “cut taxes and spend” Bush legacy. But the chief concern of the Hoover congressional Republicans was how to help get the country out of the mess they had made. So rather than snipe at the new president, they decided to join with Democrats and give him whatever he asked for. This united front not only allowed FDR to concentrate solely on new initiatives to solve the crisis but gave worried citizens a sense their government was moving in tandem to get it done.

As we all know, Republicans are having none of that this time around. They take such pride saying no that even as President Obama offers the hand of compromise their response is thumbs and forefingers forming a circle indicating zero votes. As party policy, Republicans are betting against the economic recovery Democrats are trying to create.

A strategy that stakes its political success on the country going down the tubes puts an enormous burden on those party leaders charged with explaining it to anxious voters. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has been given the task of creating that winning Republican message.

The House minority whip is off to a rough start.  Recently when AFSCME ran ads targeting Cantor for leading GOP opposition to the economic recovery plan, his office reacted by sending out an ad of their own depicting
AFSCME workers as curse-spewing buffoons. That was a PR disaster.

Cantor apologized and apparently began thinking about a more nurturing Republican spin in their rejection of Obama and the stimulus. Maybe something a little less Rush Limbaugh.

According to press reports, he began studying Winston Churchill, legendary for his ability to motivate entire nations through the spoken word.  “We shall fight on the beaches…”

Fully tuned to the blood toil, tears and sweat of the negative Republican strategy, Cantor’s Churchillian description of the stimulus bill was to be their finest hour…

In the embattled House chamber, one hand resting on the thousand-page document just approved without any GOP votes, the mesmerizing words rolled off Cantor’s lips:

“It’s a stinker.”

Maybe Cantor should burrow a little deeper into his Churchill studies.

Washington