EHRs in the age of government-controlled Internet kill switches
Egypt's crisis has raised alarms about national security and economic impact for Americans if regime change leads to an anti-US government controlling a strong ally in the Middle East. This crisis raises another more personal concern for Americans that has been overlooked by the national media: The security and availability of your electronic medical records in the event of a government-imposed "kill switch" for the Internet.
Many Americans still do not know that hidden in the February 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as the "Stimulus" bill, was a provision that by 2014, physicians, hospitals, and other medical settings are to implement electronic medical records keeping systems. In 2015, penalties will be levied against physicians and healthcare facilities that do not implement use of electronic medical records.
The government's plan is that medical information from physician consults and other medical visits will be sent to the Federal Health Information Technology (HIT) bureau in Washington, D.C. to provide individual medical data for the federally run Comparative Effectiveness Research coordinating panel of experts. According to a provision also hidden in the "Stimulus" bill, this panel of government-appointed experts is designated with deciding what treatment is allowed for individuals, based on government criteria for both cost and effectiveness.
Why do the events happening in Egypt raise concerns about these provisions in the 2009 Stimulus Bill? Think about it. The authoritarian government in power in Egypt quickly realized that communication via the Internet was furthering the spread of the protest movement. Without warning, the Egyptian government suddenly shut down the Internet to stop protesters' ability to organize rallies.
Of course, protesters' communication was not the only communication that was interrupted with this draconian "kill switch." Financial systems, such as on-line banking, ATMs, and wire transfers, were affected, along with hundreds of other businesses that could no longer communicate with other offices around the world.
Medical communication via the Internet also came to a halt. Suppose your local doctor or hospital Emergency Room must obtain your electronic medical record via the Internet from the Health Czar's cyberspace "cloud," with access controlled by Washington elites.
What happens to your ability to get rapid medical treatment if you find yourself in a medical emergency that occurs in the middle of a political crisis and the government has shut down the Internet? At that point, you will appreciate first hand the true tyranny of ObamaCzarCare.
The President already has the authority under the Emergency Powers Act to do just this, so it isn't hard to take the next step and imagine what can happen to patients if we physicians only have access via the Internet to people's electronic records.