Should the WikiLeaks fiasco raise healthcare privacy concerns?

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With roughly 250,000 documents released by WikiLeaks and with the aid of some popular media outlets, the ramifications of the diplomatic cables will be far-reaching. My initial thoughts were mixed: perhaps this latest WikiLeaks embarrassment will sound the alarm bells for governments and private industries to protect sensitive information more closely; perhaps it will lead to the development of more sophisticated information technology tools and training methodologies. On the other hand, it is impossible to ignore the obvious – that the United States government failed to prevent a massive theft of classified data. As a result, the logical question raised is “how we can expect, in the future, government agencies (federal, state, or local), or even private industries, to keep sensitive data confidential?”

This chart represents the source of the cables

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In my recent article on the importance of Electronic and Personal Health records, I discussed why the electronic storage of medical information is beneficial to patients, and how the use of smart health information technology can save money and lives. There is no denying that we are living in the “information age,” and to resist this transition would be counterintuitive and counterproductive. But, we also are living in the post-9/11 era. Thus, we must strike a balance between our privacy rights & expectations, and our safety.

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