With very little fanfare, Telstra last week announced its involvement in one of the more sensible initiatives I've heard about this year.
It will provide software-as-a-service medical systems via its T-Suite platform to the members of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Currently there isn't any specialist medical software on T-Suite, but Telstra, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and the college plan to work with GPs and vendors to work that out.
I know that long-time industry veteran, blogger David More, has expressed his concern about the security of the data on such a system. And cloud security has certainly received a lot of attention recently.
I rang Telstra to ask where the data for the GPs would be stored. Although the data for some of the T-Suite applications is stored elsewhere, the applications used by the GPs will be kept onshore, according to Telstra spokesperson Rod Bruem.
Considering this, and considering that Telstra probably has a better idea of how to keep data safe than your average GP's office, I think this arrangement has serious merit.
People have to stop rushing in with their paranoia cloaks on, and instead need to think logically about what will really make their data safe. Will having data saved on a computer system held together more by prayers than any technical aptitude be safer than having it stored on servers of a big company that'll actually get into a PR mess if there's a data breach?
I don't think so.
Sure, there's scope for misuse. Yes, horrid things could happen. But I don't think there's more chance for misuse than there currently is, especially given the insecure IT practices many SMBs use. (Yes, your doctor is probably an SMB. Would you entrust your medical information to your local coffee shop's IT system?)
And when I think about the IT chaos that exists in many doctors' offices, especially in regional areas, it seems obvious that taking the IT burden off doctors' hands can only be a good thing. Not only can they concentrate on doing what they do best — diagnosing illnesses and consoling the sick — but their IT costs might also go down, and with them, the cost of my next appointment.