On Spooks And Healthcare: Should We Be Nervous?

Jeff Rowe | HIMSS Future Care | December 18, 2014

An anonymous group of scientists is advising government agencies on futuristic national policies.  Sounds like the stuff of a blockbuster action film or, better yet, timeless political satire.  But meet JASON, an anonymous group of scientists that has long been involved in Department of Defense projects, but which, in the past year, has released two reports commissioned by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on, of all things, health IT.

The first report, entitled A Robust Health Data Infrastructure, was released last November, and it focused on the issue that has been occupying the minds and efforts of many healthcare stakeholders; specifically, how to build a nationwide data network that brings the advantages of health IT to patients and providers across the country. The second report, Data for Individual Health, was released last month, and in it the group grapples with the problem of “how to bridge to a system focused on health of individuals rather than care of individuals.”  It’s that shift in topic that gives us pause.

To be sure, much of the group’s reflection was based on the testimony of numerous well-known health experts from both the public and private sectors who gave presentations to the group over the past year on an array of health IT-related topics. Moreover, JASON’s recommendations were largely unobjectionable: “HHS should adopt standards and incentives to allow sharing of data,” and “Accrediting bodies should require training of all health care team members to achieve required levels of numeracy and fluency in a common parlance of health informatics” were just two of the generally anodyne suggestions...