For whatever reason, people still do not get the basics of the Health Internet. Part of the problem is the fact that the marketing term has been, until recently the National Health Information Network or NHIN. The Feds recently decided to start calling the project the Health Internet, because that gives a much better idea of what they are trying to achieve.
Please do not be the guy/gal who writes in my comments but the Internet is not secure, that means my privacy will be violated. That is pure FUD and is not how the Health Internet will work. It is a relatively simple process to make the Health Internet into a zone that is more secure and private than the current health information infrastructure. Notice that did not say “secure” I said “more secure”. Your bank is not “secure”, your doctors paper records are not “secure”, the CIA is not “secure”. As an adjective, secure is more like the human attribute of “tall”. I am typically considered a tall person, but in college I was an student athletic trainer for my schools basketball team. In that crowd, I was short. While there is one and only one person who can be considered universally “tall”, it is well understood that this is a relative term. Similarly, the Health Internet is relatively more secure than current systems. I personally am far more comfortable having my private data in the Health Internet than I am with having my paper records locked in my Doctors office. You should be too.
So you should not be thinking about security or privacy in the Health Internet…. Really… It is as close to a solved problem as it gets. There are always obviously ways to make things more secure… but taller is not always better.
So what does the Health Internet buy you as an individual living in the US? To put it simply you and your Doctors should eventually be able to get to all of your health information as easily as you now get access to your financial information. Its a big promise, but the design of the Health Internet should eventually make that kind of convenience and access a reality.
Given that, it becomes obvious why a rebranding to the Health Internet is a good idea. For several basic reasons:
- the original Internet started life as a government network (ARPANET)… And that has turned out pretty well.
- the reason that the original Internet was such a hit was that people built neat stuff on top of it. Similarly, the Feds are hoping that people will use the Health Internet as the platform for further innovation.
So the Health Internet is a good thing and everyone should embrace it.
So how do you jump start a Health Internet? You do it by providing Open Source Software that enables people to participate in the new network.
Most people do not really understand the relationship between Open Source networking projects and the success of the original Internet. Here is how this breaks down:
Most of the Internet servers that provide X do it using Open Source project Y. With that as a template, look at the following chart:
Of course, you -can- use proprietary software for these components, but the Internet as we know it would not exist without these very low cost tools that provide a substancially large portion of our Internet infrastructure. So whats the plan for the Health Internet? Simple.
The CONNECT project is an Open Source project that -will- run the core Health Internet. The core will connect major government health data sources including the VA and the DoD the initial Health Internet core. Most importantly the CONNECT software is available for local exchanges to connect into the core Health Internet.
Overall the strategy of creating an Open Source project that can be used to fractally to create other, connected, networks is a proven strategy. Its a smart move and it is going to change Health Informatics in fashion that is very similar to the way the Internet has already changed computing generally.