Governor Jack Dalrymple Picked The Wrong Day To Unveil Health Record Sharing Network

jack dalrymple

What sort of day is the wrong day to announce a new statewide network for sharing health records? Maybe the day one of the largest branches of state government, the North Dakota University System, announced to the media that hackers had access to a server storing hundreds of thousands of private student records – including Social Security numbers – for months before it was detected, and that the NDUS sat on that fact for another month before announcing it to the public.

Hey, let’s put all our health records in one database. What’s the worst that could happen? Aside from, you know, a massive security fail.

Talk about bad timing.

Healthcare officials joined Gov. Jack Dalrymple Wednesday in announcing the official rollout of an electronic health information network aimed at allowing physicians and facilities to share information.

The governor joined with healthcare industry and state officials at the Capitol in announcing the official rollout of the North Dakota Health Information Network.

Dalrymple said the system would allow information sharing of physicians’ electronic health records systems. Physicians, hospitals, public health units and other healthcare facilities would have access to the network. The system went live earlier this year.

“We are very proud of the progress this group has made so far,” Dalrymple said. “It’s valuable to have that information about health readily available.”

Sheldon Wolf, director of the North Dakota Health Information Network, said approximately 650 people already have access to the network’s secure email system. He said about 40 healthcare providers across the state are already utilizing the system.

Let’s face it. We live in a post-privacy age. For better or worse, our lives are now online, and anything online is vulnerable be it to human error or the nefarious machinations of hackers.

The government push to put health records online started with President Obama’s stimulus bill, but I wonder if such an initiative would receive the same level of enthusiastic support today – after the NSA leaks among other public slaps-in-the-face when it comes to online privacy – that it did back in 2009.

My guess is no.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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