Ridge Parallels HIT and Homeland Security

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The Wednesday keynote address at the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in San Diego brought Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Tom Ridge to center stage.
   
Ridge discussed the country’s response to threats to homeland security and compared challenges and tasks of the department of homeland security to those faced by the healthcare IT community.  
   
The national strategy to combat terrorism is based on several principles, said Ridge.

  • Homeland security is a risk management vs. a risk elimination undertaking. The focus is weapons of mass threat.
  • Homeland security requires an integrated relationship between the feds, states and private sector.
  • Embedding technology facilitates improved performance and greater efficiency and effectiveness. Data must be transformed into actionable intelligence.
  • The U.S. holds itself to a higher standard. The rest of the world applies a higher standard to the actions of the U.S. as well.
  • Issues of civil rights and privacy must be discussed.

Ridge said it could take decades for both homeland security and healthcare IT to achieve their objectives. The U.S. is up to the tasks at hand, he said. He predicted that the country will emerge from the war on terrorism as a better and stronger nation. Similarly, as healthcare invests in IT to overcome its challenges, a new and improved system characterized by enhanced safety, improved communication and greater efficiency will emerge.