Dell Hedging On Health IT Investment; Privacy Concerns Remain
The Wall Street Journal: Dell is hoping to capitalize on its purchase of health technology firm Perot Systems by providing services to new clients such as the 2,600-doctor Methodist Hospital System in Houston. Dell has contracted to create an electronic medical records system for Methodist, a new foray into IT services for the hardware-focused firm. "If successful, the strategy would help Dell combat a slowdown in its core computer business that has pushed it from being the world's largest computer maker to No. 3, behind Hewlett-Packard Co. and Acer Inc." The move into health IT services is well timed. "Spending on medical IT is expected to boom because of the Obama administration's overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, and Dell is hoping to get a big chunk of it. Spending on health-care IT by hospitals and doctors' offices will likely rise to $13 billion by 2013, up 25% from last year, according to estimates by data tracker IDC" (Sherr, 7/6).
Meanwhile, some health IT skeptics are raising privacy concerns. The Miami Herald asks, "If millions of patients across America have electronic medical records they can access 24/7 by punching a code into a home computer or BlackBerry, how safe are those records from identity thieves?" About as safe as banking records, the article answers. There is a conflict for policymakers between the need to make such information useful, while at the same time protecting privacy. "In the push for nationwide EMRs, Congress has tightened privacy rules, increasing penalties for leaking information, requiring immediate notification of patients if their records are leaked. It's not enough, argued a 2009 editorial in The Journal of the American Medical Association that said the law still does too little to protect patients' records and is too restrictive in giving legitimate access to medical researchers" (Tasker, 7/6).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.