Thursday, February 17, 2005

Aggregate databases: what my shadow medical profile will look like

In an earlier post I noted the inevitable rise of the "total information awareness" "shadow profile", the picture of a person that emerges when one aggregates data across a diverse set of databases with a variety of primary purposes: Faughnan's Notes: The national identification card and database.

My profile will make interesting reading. Due to an uncharacterized error in a payor's/provider manager information system a variety of claims are being directed against one of my employer's benefits program. The claims are for services are not covered by this benefit program, so the claims are being rejected.

In addition to not being covered, they are also not my claims. They belong to another person.

Depending on how the benefit program manages data associated with rejected claims, however, the diagnostic codes (ICD-9) may well be retained in the system and associated with my name. Ten years from now, the corrupted descendant of "total information awareness" will be browsing shadow profiles identifying persons to be added to various "yelllow and black and grey". This particular database will have an interesting range of ICD-9 codes in the database; a set that might put me on a "yellow" list.

I'll also be uninsurable. Chances are there won't be any way to know why I'll be rejected for insurance, or strip-searched every time I fly, and there will be no way to correct the error. The only saving grace is that a lot of people will be in the same boat. We can commiserate in the restricted areas where undesirables might be allowed to congregate..

The use of databases for purposes other than their original intent will cause no end of problems.

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