IBM bets on necessity for health IT security with Initiate

If data integrity and security are baked into the infrastructure of data transfers, how much will that add to the cost of building the networks and (more important) in using them?

Our Larry Dignan reports today on IBM's purchase of Initiate Systems, a producer of secure data management software, as part of its push into health IT.

This is in line with IBM's own press release on the purchase, noting that it aids the company's push into both health care and government markets.

SpendMatters says this also consolidates the secure data management space between IBM and Oracle, but it also reignites a key controversy the government has tried to bypass in developing meaningful use rules in the stimulus.

That is the requirement for secured, audited transfers of data in health care.

The kind of work Initiate does can fit well into a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) or the National Health Information Network (NHIN), also known as the Health Internet. Within a communications structure the cost of such a complex process becomes a rounding error, and the benefits are obvious.

But for individual hospitals and clinics that are struggling to build out their Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems, the need for such software can easily become a deal breaker.

We have just gone through a decade in which fear of insecure data transfers, driven by the HIPAA law, have given this industry the deer-in-the-headlights look. Health care was paralyzed by the need for expensive security in dealing with data. The requirement made the 2000s a lost decade for health IT.

If data integrity and security are baked into the infrastructure of data transfers, how much will that add to the cost of building the networks and (more important) in using them?

That's the question IBM needs to answer if Initiate is to become an enabling technology and not another roadblock, another excuse for the industry to stick with paper.

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