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Senators Demand CIA Director Admit He Lied About Spying On Senate Computers 148

blottsie writes with a link to a story at The Daily Dot which begins: CIA Director John Brennan lied when he denied ordering agency employees to search Senate computers to trace a leak. Frustrated with his unwillingness to admit the obvious, three Senate Democrats on Friday called on Brennan to admit that his agency crossed the line. The Senate Intelligence Committee was preparing a report on the CIA's Bush-era torture programs when the spy agency discovered that the committee had somehow acquired an internal CIA report on the program. To determine how the report had leaked, Brennan ordered CIA officers to pry into the computers used by committee staffers. The heart of the story is in the letter in which the Senators call for Brennan to 'fess up, also linked from the story. Drawing from that letter: When you were asked publicly about the CIA's search in March 2014, you denied that any improper access had occurred, stating that "As fas the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, that's -- that's just beyond the -- you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we could do." The reports of both the Inspector General and your review board demonstrate that this denial was at odds with the facts.

In June 2014, senior officials from the FBI, NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all testified that it would be inappropriate for their agencies to secretly search Senate files without external authorization. To date, however, there has been no public acknowledgement from you or any other CIA official (outside the Office of Inspector General) that this search was improper, nor even a commitment that the CIA will not conduct such searches in the future. This is entirely unacceptable.

Comment Re:Time to Legislate Data Mining (Score 1) 162

Fortunately, that strategy does not work for HIPAA protected health information. Any identifying number or information fragment that allows you to connect back to the original patient is not allowed. In small communities, this can be as little as age, diagnosis, and zip code.

I expect some interesting court cases over this.

Comment Re:Great use of govt money! (Score 1) 121

This is the perfect use of government money: projects which are promising (though they may not pan out in the end), which will help many people, and which will not be subsidized by industry because they will not make money in the next three quarters. I don't expect any real results from this study for many years, but I think it's a very important study to do.

While I agree with your premise that this is the perfect example of why we would want government to fund specific types of R & D, I'd argue that private industry is terribly interested in analytics and the ability to provide enhanced clinical decision support and measure previously unknown positive outcomes based on specific treatment protocols or inputs.

HIT companies have saturated the existing EHR market - competitive advantage will come from the ability to derive value from existing data.


Oregon To Let Students Use Spell Check on State Exams 235

Starting in 2011, the Oregon Department of Education will let students spell check their work before submitting state exams. From the article: "The move is supposed to help the assessments focus less on typos and more on their writing skills. 'We are not letting a student's keyboarding skills get in the way of being able to judge their writing ability,' said state Superintendent Susan Castillo. 'As we're using technology to improve what we're doing with assessments as a nation, we believe that spell check will be one of those tools.'"

Walmart Stores Get CCTV-Enabled, Breathalyzin' Wine Vending Machines 135

Select Pennsylvania Walmarts have found a way to work around the law prohibiting alcohol sales in grocery stores. It turns out the shortsighted legislature forgot to make it illegal to sell wine from a vending machine: "as long as the user is asked to take a breathalyzer test, swipe their state issued ID or Driver License, and then show their mug to a state official sitting somewhere in Harrisburg, who is keeping an eye on the proceedings via CCTV." I'm surprised nobody thought of this sooner.

Students Banned From Bringing Pencils To School 426

mernilio writes "According to UPI: 'A Massachusetts school district superintendent said a memo banning sixth graders from carrying pencils was written without district approval. North Brookfield School District interim Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy said Wendy Scott, one of two sixth-grade teachers at North Brookfield Elementary School, did not get approval from administrators before sending the memo to all sixth-grade parents, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Thursday. The memo said students would no longer be allowed to bring writing implements to school. It said pencils would be provided for students in class and any students caught with pencils or pens after Nov. 15 would face disciplinary action for having materials 'to build weapons.'"
The Almighty Buck

ATMs That Dispense Gold Bars Coming To America 482

tetrahedrassface writes "As the US economic woes continue unabated, a German company is bringing gold-bearing ATMs to Mainstreet America. The machines accept credit cards, and will dispense 1 gram, 5 gram, 10 gram and 1 ounce units, as well as various gold coins. The company hopes to install 35 bullion machines in the United States this year, and will hopefully have several hundred up and running by next year. The machines will be decorated like giant gold ingots and be over two meters tall. Physical gold has both pros and cons, but from a safety standpoint would it be fine to have a couple of ounces in your pocket while walking around the mall? The giant, gold-dispensing ATMs will monitor the market conditions for gold every 10 minutes in order to reflect spot price changes as they occur." We already covered similar machines installed in travel hubs across Germany.

Comment Re:line item opt out (Score 1) 114

Has anyone ever anywhere suggested a line item opt out?

Yes - Canada has the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) which has what is referred to as the concept of "Lock box." The idea is that you may direct a healthcare provider to not disclose certain data about you. When sharing data, the provider is allowed to disclose that there is additional "lock box" data.

Comment Re:Criticisms and a Better plan (Score 1) 184

That's great for a data/transmission standard, but another big problem is proprietary databases. Every application has it's own "under-the-hood" storage structure. Imagine if there was a standardized database structure, don't you think that would go a long way towards better interoperability and communication?

No, I don't think a common data storage schema would promote better interoperability. I think a correct data exchange standard will promote this, and vendors will implement data storage and business logic independently.

The problem is that HL7 v 2.x is too "loose" of a standard. It's not particularly descriptive, and both vendors and healthcare organizations have had to stretch the HL7 protocol in order to make it useful.

HL7 3.0 and the RIM have gone a long way towards fixing many of the problems with 2.x. However, 3.0 is not ratified, and there is not straightforward mapping between 2.x and 3.0. This makes it a challenge for vendors and healthcare organizations to leverage 3.0.

HIT is a conservative, slow moving vertical. We'll see gradual movement towards better interop on the wire, and we'll go from there. The RDBMS (or, in some cases OODBMS) is not the place to tackle this issue.


Comment Re:Criticisms and a Better plan (Score 1) 184

You're only half right. The problem is that HIT vendors are generally well behind the times, slow to innovate and closed and proprietary as all get out. You think MS is bad? You haven't seen highyway robbery until you've seen the shit in a box most HIT vendors push.

While there is certainly long history behind this statement (and some truth), it's not so black and white. Innovation works great when you are landing new client deals - flashy and shiny sells.

However, many clinicians (and dare I say physicians in particular) while normally highly intelligent, are actually very "challenged" users of technology. Changes that are straightforward in the business world are a complete no-go in HIT. Many large healthcare entities will actually draw into contractual language the amount of technical and GUI changes that may occur in a software release or update.

For the most part, it is not vendor resistance to change, but an entire vertical that is very conservative. If it was otherwise, conservative vendors would die very quickly in a Darwinian manner as more responsive companies stepped up to bat.

In short, it's a symbiotic client/vendor relationship that inhibits change.


Comment Re:Criticisms and a Better plan (Score 1) 184

I've seen PHR to EMR interoperability, but very little EMR to EMR. The Social Security Administration is also doing an enormous amount of work to leverage the NHIN to pass CDA content for disability eligibility, but that's a payor/eligibility type relationship, kinda sorta.

RHIOs were supposed to be the "grass roots" mechanism to get this going, but while there have been some marginally successful RHIOs, most of them are funded by grant money. Without a mechanism to monetize this data exchange, there's little incentive (and action) in EMR to EMR interop.

Again, CCHIT and changes to STARK will inject incentives into adoption of this technology, and you'll see a lot of gears turning in this space.


Comment Re:Criticisms and a Better plan (Score 1) 184

For one, the creation of a single standard document for representing a medical history would go a long way towards enabling applications across the medical spectrum to coexist.

This document type does exist. Please review the emerging HL7 v3 documentation. Pay particular attention to CDA/CCD.

The bottom line is that once there is convergence around interoperability, which proprietary EMR solution a Healthcare Organization utilizes matter much less less. Prior to CCHIT and changes in STARK, vendors had little incentive to develop interoperable solutions - vendor lock-in is part of the HIT business model.

For once, the government is actually driving positive change into an industry. Through provider-based incentives (carrot vs. the stick), HCOs (Healthcare Organizations) will have positive incentive to implement interoperable solutions.

It's a facinating time in HIT, and I'm frankly enjoying being on the vendor side of right. I expect fundamental change over the next 5-7 years in HIT, unlike anything we've seen in the last 15. Great stuff, really.


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