Is the NHS Computer System Crash in Scotland a Harbinger of what is to come with Obamacare?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 5th, 2013

Week in Review

One of the keys to making health care better under Obamacare is by digitizing our medical records.  To allow the swift sharing of our personal information with medical providers.  A one-stop-shop, if you will.  Where everything you would ever want to know about someone (income, Social Security number, home address, names of family members, embarrassing medical conditions, etc.) is but a click away.  All sitting nice and tidy in one massive database.

Hmmm, wait a tic.  Isn’t that kind of dangerous?  I mean, is there anything more frustrating when you can’t get your balance at the bank because the computer is down?  But that’s only a banking system.  I’m sure that would never happen with a national computer system for Obamacare that is guarding our most private and personal information (see NHS IT staff hopeful about fix for Glasgow health board area posted 10/3/2013 on BBC News Glascow & West Scotland).

Scotland’s largest health board has said its IT system is working again after a two-day crash saw hundreds of appointments and procedures cancelled.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it still does not know what caused the problem which affected 11 hospitals.

The health board said no patient information had been lost and data gathered during the crash would be manually added to update the system…

Mr Calderwood said the “unprecedented” systems crash related to the health board’s computer network and the way staff connected to clinical and administrative systems.

“The situation is that as users log on they go through a system called Microsoft Active Directory, a router system which recognises users and allows individual access to our clinical and administrative support systems,” he explained.

“This was corrupted over the weekend which became apparent when staff logged on to the system on Tuesday after the holiday weekend.”

Although the problem has been resolved, NHS GGC still does not know what caused it.

“You know, Mrs. Smith, I’m not happy with the grade you gave me for my paper.  That could hurt my scholarship chances for college.  So let’s make a deal.  You fix my grade and I won’t tell anyone about your HPV and your vaginal warts that you contracted when you were in high school, you filthy whore.”

In this day and age do we really want to make it easier for people to steal our identities or extort us?  They said no patient information was lost but how much was copied?  Which is a rhetorical question as they could never know.  Something happened.  But they have no idea what.  But there is nothing to worry about they insist.   Just because kids can hack into some of the most secured computer networks in the world what are the chances that someone hacked into theirs to steal most private and personal information we have in our lives?

Obamacare did not get off to an impressive start.  With the whole system going offline for repairs within the first week.  It would be sad if we remember these as the good days of Obamacare.  Before hackers began stealing our most private and personal information.

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Thieves are Stealing Medical Equipment and Personal Information from the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2012

Week in Review

Thomas Jefferson did not like having money and government get too close.  Because history is strewn with examples of corruption whenever money and government come together.  From padding the federal payroll to spending money to buying votes to outright graft.  Which is why Thomas Jefferson would have opposed Obamacare.  For he would have thought it was not the federal government’s business to provide health care.  And he definitely would not have wanted the federal government spending that kind of tax money.

We spend a lot on health care.  About $2.6 trillion today.  And another bad thing about spending that kind of money?  Government bureaucrats just aren’t that good at it.  So you know Obamacare won’t be as good as the health care provided by the private sector.  Just look at what’s happening in the UK to see the future of Obamacare when the government takes responsibility for $2.6 trillion in health care spending (see The great hospital robbery: Defibrillators, baby heart monitors, even beds – thieves are walking out of NHS wards with vital equipment by John Naish posted 9/24/2012 on Mail Online).

The great hospital robbery: Defibrillators, baby heart monitors, even beds – thieves are walking out of NHS wards with vital equipment…

Experts suggest they are spiriting it abroad, to Eastern Europe or even as far afield as Iraq and Afghanistan.

And, shockingly, NHS staff are sometimes involved, acting as an ‘inside man’.

But if such thefts are not scandalous enough in themselves, NHS chiefs appear to be so blasé about the losses they don’t even have a national picture of how much equipment is being stolen, let alone a comprehensive anti-theft strategy…

To make matters worse, NHS trusts can’t claim for the stolen property, says Sarah Bailey of the Association of British Insurers.

‘The NHS does not tend to take out commercial insurance policies. Instead, it “self-insures”, which means it absorbs the cost of its losses, rather than taking out policies that could be expensive.’

As she points out: ‘Ultimately, it could be the taxpayer who funds those losses.’

Of course government bureaucrats aren’t going to get excited about theft.  Why should they care?  It’s not their money.  And it’s not their job.  Besides the losses won’t come out of anyone’s pay.  They’ll just pass the losses on to the taxpayers.  Something they can’t do in the private sector.  Which is why they take loss prevention a bit more seriously in the private sector.  Because there is accountability in the private sector.  And profits.  So they put people in places to minimize anything that will reduce those profits.  Like theft.  Something the NHS appears to be not overly concerned about.  Pity.  For they are stealing more than just medical equipment.

Laptops used by hospital staff are the most frequent target of hospital thieves, which could mean millions of people’s personal details and medical records have fallen into the hands of criminals.

In June last year, for example, NHS North Central London admitted that an apparently unencrypted laptop, containing details of more than eight million patients, was one of 20 machines reported stolen from a storeroom.

When computer thefts result in the loss of sensitive information on patients, this has to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the independent public authority set up to uphold information rights.

Figures from the ICO show that the NHS is the top sector for such losses, with significantly more incidents than the whole of the private sector put together…

And this is the future under Obamacare.  Greater inefficiencies because of theft.  And greater theft of personal information.  Which there will be a lot of available to steal as Obamacare digitizes all our medical records.  So as we move to national health care it will cost more and we will get less.  As they spend a lot of our tax dollars to replace stolen equipment thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the government bureaucrats in charge of Obamacare.  While we spend more to replace what others steal from us thanks to their lackadaisical attitude about securing our personal information.

Sure, some say Obamacare will do better than the NHS.  But to them I say the NHS probably does national health care better than most.  And after doing it since 1948 they’ll be able to do it better than the Americans will be able to do it just starting out.  Only it will be a lot harder than it was in 1948.  Thanks to an aging population raising the cost of health care.  And the sophistication of the bad guys in stealing from the system.  No.  Obamacare will be a far cry from the NHS.  So as bad as anything is in the NHS just remember that Obamacare will probably never be that good.

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Computerized Medical Records open the Door to Fraud and Give Glimpse of Health Care under Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2012

Week in Review

One of the ways to improve efficiency and cut costs in health care is to digitize medical records.  President Obama and the Democrats kept talking about that as they pushed Obamacare through a Democrat-controlled House and Senate.  This simple fact was going to fix so much that was wrong with health care in the U.S.  Putting all our personal information online is just common sense.  Because it makes it so much easier for health care providers to look up our personal information no matter where they are.  And as it turns out, it makes it easier for others to pull up that personal information (see Feds warn hospitals over Medicare fraud by Associated Press posted 9/24/2012 on CBS NEWS).

Computerized medical records were supposed to cut costs. Now the Obama administration is warning hospitals that might be tempted to use the technology for gaming the system.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder issued the warning Monday in a letter to hospital trade associations, following media reports of alleged irregularities.

The letter said there were indications that some providers were using computerized records technology to possibly obtain payments to which they were not entitled. It raised the threat of prosecution.

Among the practices under scrutiny is what’s called “upcoding” — or raising the severity of a patient’s condition to get more money.

The U.S. spends about $770 billion annually on Medicare based on a recent CBO projection.  Imagine the fraud in the system when the government takes over all $2.6 trillion of health care spending.  If the spending increases by 238% one can assume the fraud will increase by 238%.  Fraud made easier by the digitizing of our health care system.  Unless, of course, the U.S. will have the best cyber security in place like they do for Medicare.

Hospitals say part of the problem is that Medicare has lagged in updating billing guidelines for emergency room and clinic visits.

Getting the billing guidelines in place is probably the easier part of a computerized billing system.  Probably a lot easier than securing that system from cyber attacks.  So it doesn’t give one a strong sense of confidence that our personal information will be safe online.  Especially when the government goes from processing $770 billion annually to processing $2.6 trillion annually.

Obamacare may make it easier for doctors to access all our personal information.  But it will also make it easier for everyone else to access our personal information.  Including those we don’t want seeing our personal information.  Those who want our social security number.  Address.  Phone numbers.  Addresses and phone numbers of our family members.  As well as our personal medical history.  All of which will be one click away for those who would really like to have it.  Makes you yearn for the old days.  When only your family doctor had that information.  On a paper file.  In his or her file cabinet.  Safe and secure.  Even if it was not the most efficient system in the world it was one you didn’t have to worry about.

Sadly, those days are long gone.  For Obamacare will put your health care experience on the public stage.  Where little will be secure from prying and persistent eyes.  Where the same people will be responsible for your personal information that can’t stop Medicare fraud.

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