Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Standards should be as Simple and Stupid as Possible

Great post by Adam Bosworth:

Talking to DC

Hat Tip: Joel on Software

Also see Dreaming of Flexible, Simple, Sloppy, Tolerant in Healthcare IT and Liberate the Data!

Selling Anonymized Health Data

anonymous350The New York Times article When 2+2 Equals a Privacy Question raises some serious medical data privacy concerns.

But by 2020, when a vast majority of American health providers are expected to have electronic health systems, the data mining component alone could generate sales of up to $5 billion…

The magnitude of data needed to generate that kind a revenue is significant.  The likelihood that “de-identification” of someone’s health information will occur is very high.  “Anonymized” Data Really Isn’t points out the same thing that the NYT article does:

Computer scientists over the past fifteen years show that it is quite straightforward to extract personal information by analyzing seemingly unrelated, “anonymized” data sets.

The demand for the secondary use of health data (and here) is high because it is believed it will

Significantly improve the quality of patient care and offers the promise of even greater benefits in the future.

Many feel that use of secondary health information should be regulated by the government.

Here’s a good overview that covers many health data secondary use issues: Toward a National Framework for the Secondary Use of Health Data: An American Medical Informatics Association White Paper.

UPDATE (10/20/09): Also see the Wired article Medical Records: Stored in the Cloud, Sold on the Open Market.

The Desperate Need for Simplicity

Ted Neward’s article “Agile is treating the symptoms, not the disease” touches on several important points about the software industry.

  • Modern software development tools and technologies require a significant learning curve.
  • Development methodologies (like Agile) exist for managing complexity, but do not reduce the load of these technologies.
  • In the last decade there has been no “Next Big Thing”, like Access was in the 90s.

What’s most interesting to me is:

We are in desperate need of simplicity in this industry. Whoever gets that, and gets it right, defines the “Next Big Thing”.

What’s true in the broader software world is also generally true in Healthcare IT.  In HIT there has never been an Access equivalent, just a lot of pieces and parts trying unsuccessfully to work together.

The need was touched on in Liberate the Data!.  Simplicity is desperately needed in order to create the “First Big Thing” for HIT interoperability.

UPDATE (10/14/09):  More commentary:

Canyon Fire: To Close for Comfort!

It’s that time of year again. In Oct. 2007 over 1500 homes went up in flames in San Diego. It wasn’t close to us then, but now I understand the danger much better.

I left work a little early because of the Packer-Viking game (MNF starts at 5:15 on the West Coast).  As I approached our Condo complex I saw smoke bellowing over the roofs. My wife had also just gotten home and we watched with amazement the canyon below going up in flames no more than 25 yards from our patio.


A neighbor had called 911 a few minutes before, but the 15 or so minutes prior to the SDFD arrival was tense. The fire spread amazingly fast. Large shrubs literally exploded into flames. The wind was blowing pretty hard in our direction, but seemed to wane and shift a little, which slowed its progress some.

We collected photos and valuables and got them in the car, ready to escape.

Fortunately, the SDFD came to the rescue in time. A fire helicopter did a couple of water drops, but it was the firefighters that saved the day.

Wow, close call!

I better get back to the second half. Go Pack!

UPDATE: Oh well. Brett and the Vikings will be at Lambeau on Nov. 1. It’s a long season…



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