Abstract - The Information Society 12(1)

Dystopia on the health superhighway

Simon Davies

The emerging information superhighway is starting to induce visions of dystopia within the medical profession. In several countries, doctors have opposed plans for the establishment of national health data networks. In the most recent example, the Council of British Medical Association threatened to boycott the government's national data strategy. This action followed the lead of Australian doctors, many of whom have consistently opposed a national wide-area network for health data. In common is the fear that this data linkage will erode medical independence, increase the power of government health authorities, and eliminate the confidentiality of medical information. Doctors have a duty of care to patients to protect confidentiality, and they say the emerging national networks compromise this responsibility. It is argued that the emerging health superhighways should either conform to strict privacy standards or they should be demolished.

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