Cover: Traveling the New Information Highway

Traveling the New Information Highway

Published In: Journal of the American Medical Association, v. 271, no. 24, 1994, p. 1955-1956

Posted on rand.org 1994

by Thomas L. Lincoln

It is well-understood that technologies such as interactive computing are double-edged swords that can aggravate problems as well as provide solutions. This article discusses the long-term potential of and possible problems inherent in the information highway, or long-distance, interactive computing. Networked communication vastly facilitates access to computer databases. A negative aspect of increased communication is the possibility of breaching patient confidentiality, so well-assured in current medicine. In the highly automated future, patient data will be increasingly available to people who are not bound by or committed to the ethics of the medical professions. All new technologies require that proper rules be established for their use. How will electronic health care data be used? Who will make these decisions? Would we accept laissez-faire usage? Many questions need to be addressed concerning these new interactive computer highways, and the author concludes that it behooves us first to gather experience with technologies by traveling the Internet under less-pressured circumstances.

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