[ Monday, November 15, 2004 ]


Lots of stuff in the news today: In the New York Times, an article on "tiny antennas" (actually, RFID, or radio frequency ID, devices) placed on bottles of certain drugs, which would allow the movement of the bottles to be tracked. RFIDs are basically "bar codes that bark;" they submit a very weak radio frequency so, for example, a shopping cart full of products, each with an RFID antenna, could pass through or by a reader and the reader would be able to tell what products were in the cart, the exact number, make, model, brand, etc. There are obvious uses of RFIDs in the retail industry; you could eliminate grocery checkout lines entirely. There are a couple of advantages that RFID would also bring to the drug distribution chain: prevention of counterfeiting (fake drug bottles won't have the RFID tag) and tracking of dangerous drugs. That's why Viagra (in the former case) and Oxycontin (in the latter) are the initial targets of RFID. Of course, that's also why it's scary from a privacy point of view: these are the exact types of things one might want to keep private.

In the Denver Business Journal, we hear talk of how Denver physicians are a driving force behind the development and implementation of electronic medical records. And in the Boston Business Journal, an article encouraging health industry participants to get moving on HIPAA security compliance. In the Chicago Tribune, an article on the increasing use of email by physician for direct patient contact. Bear in mind the encryption issue, though; email is very easy and a great tool, but hazardous to your privacy in any number of ways. Finally, in the (Harrisburg, PA) Patriot-News, an article about a woman who is suing her physicians' practice because the group used her medical file in an advertisement (it seems that one of the practice's doctors is pictured holding a medical file which is this woman's real file -- it has her name, social security number, and indicates that she had a mammogram).

(hat tip to Alan Goldberg and HealthLeaders for some of these.)

Jeff [10:50 AM]

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