Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Welcome to the Machine

From Healthcare IT News:

In a memo to its employees last week, IBM announced it would allow employees to conduct online health risk assessments and create personal health records. The service, a joint offering from WebMD and Fidelity, initially will let employees enter information such as medication and medical history into the records. There's also a health tracker that allows users to enter data such as blood pressure readings. Another tool allows employees to check for any drug interactions with medications they are currently taking.

This is the wave of the future, I think. One of the consequences of HIPAA has been a growing interest by some in having better control and access to their own PHI. As long as there is some kind of verifiable, high wallseparationn between employee access and the employer providing it, this could be a very good thing. Of course, like everything else, it will be abused, but the growing awareness of the public of individual rights under HIPAA and other privacy laws will make any transgressions ugly, at least.
At the same time, there is some understandable discomfort with allowing your employer to potentially tap into your PHI. Recent events in the corporate realm haven't been comforting--- the lowered regulatory enthusiasm and the "anything goes" attitude shown by companies like Worldcom and Enron are making it difficult for many people to maintain any level of trust in MegaCorp, Inc, and that it is IBM at the forefront of this initiative has it's own sardonic flavor.

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