Health IT

By Alice Lipowicz

Blog archive

How not to find out you have cancer

Would you want to find out you have skin cancer by reading the diagnosis in an e-mailed copy of your electronic medical record? Of course not. Nobody would.

Most doctors are also shocked by that possibility. They much prefer to deliver the news in person so they can fully explain the diagnosis and provide some treatment options and comfort.

As the Health and Human Services Department gets ready to hand out $17 billion for developing electronic health records, one of the areas that needs further study is whether and how to regulate how patients get their digital health records. Under the recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published Dec. 30, 2009, HHS requires that patients get access to their records. However, the department didn't provide much detail about the specifics.

Patients might be in for some unpleasant shocks if they have unhampered access to their records for the first time, according to an interesting report  from Fred Schulte at the Huffington Post Investigative Fund.

With all the emphasis on giving patients access, there will still be lots of questions about how to do it right. I’ve written recently about information therapy principles and about the Hl7 standard for how and when to provide the information. But it’s still just the beginning of this important discussion.

Posted on Jan 28, 2010 at 12:14 PM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Fri, Mar 5, 2010 Mike

There is nothing much to discuss. The patient has a right to all of his or her medical data. All. Of. It. And there can be no legal or ethical reason to deny people access to their own personal property - the medical record. Doctors want to delay transmitting information for their own personal convenience and justify this hording from their own arrogant assumptions.

Mon, Feb 1, 2010 Dave

I would RATHER get such news via e-mail, so I could process it without anyone else around. The real issue here is the medical establishment views medical records as THEIR property, rather than the patients' property. This has to change, and the sooner they accept it, the easier it'll be for them: medicos will have to learn to communicate better, that's all.

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