KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Law Computer Database ‘Hub’ Links 7 Agencies, Spurs Privacy Concerns

A computer system designed to determine which Americans get what subsidies to help them buy health coverage will be hugely important to the success or failure of Obamacare, Bloomberg reports. And new federal data show doctors have filed more than 190 million prescriptions electronically.

Bloomberg: Obamacare Privacy Fears Loom As Computer Links Agencies
The biggest overhaul of the U.S. health-care system in 50 years has spawned one of the most complex computer projects in the government's history.  Dubbed the Hub, the $267 million computer system built by a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. is one of the most important determiners of whether the Affordable Care Act succeeds. The hub ties together the databases of seven U.S. agencies, ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to the Peace Corps, to determine which Americans can buy medical coverage and get U.S. subsidies through the new government-run insurance exchanges (Wayne, 7/17).

USA Today: Most Health Records Now Are Electronic
An ever-expanding amount of the nation's medical records -- millions of prescriptions, medical reports and appointment reminders -- are now computerized and part of an ambitious electronic medical records program, the Obama administration reports. Since the start of a 2011 program in which the government helps finance new health records systems, doctors or their assistants have filled more than 190 million prescriptions electronically, according to data provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Jackson, 7/16).

In the meantime, Kaiser Health News looks at a Health IT "bunker" where patient data is closely guarded --

Kaiser Health News: Cerner Builds Recession-Proof 'Bunker' For Health Data
This is a story about data. Lots and lots of data. And not just any data. Extremely sensitive data. The U.S. health system is undergoing a major technological shift right now. Some equate it to finally catching up to where the banking and airline industries have been for years: Doctors and hospitals are moving to electronic health records systems, and it’s not easy. Cerner, based in Kansas City, Mo., has grown into one of the nation's biggest players in the field of health information technology (Gordon, 7/16).

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