HHS 440: Technology in Health and Human Services

Week 2 - Instructor Guidance


privacy - folder with a lock on it

This week we are taking a continued look at security and privacy as we contemplate more and more information about us being digitized and transmitted over networks. Do you feel that your information is safe? I noticed in the textbook that nearly every technological innovation is paired with concerns about privacy...yet these technologies are being applied prior to the privacy issues being solved!

Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

  • Analyze the importance of privacy and security to health care.
  • Explain the importance of the privacy of electronic medical records.
  • Discuss threats to information technology, including crimes, viruses, and the unauthorized use of data.
    Evaluate the many informational resources that computer technology and the Internet have made available and their use in the health care fields.
  • Distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of healthcare information on the internet. 


In this section you will find my own thoughts and teaching on the subject matter. This does not substitute for the assigned and suggested course readings and other materials.

I, like many people, make lots of assumptions about my safety and security on the Internet. I gleefully put my credit card information into websites when I order things and I assume that the people at the other end have my best interests in mind...they want to keep me as a customer right??

What about social network sites like Facebook? Do we really know what happens to all that information about us when we post it?

Now, all of this has to do with information WE willfully put on the Web. What about information about us that is digitized and put on the Web (or Internet) for us? We might not even know it is happening!

This week you are asked to explore Chapters 2, 10, and 12 and view 3 separate videos for our Discussions.

Chapter 2: Medical Informatics: The Health Information Technology Decade

All these emerging technologies are changing the very idea of a medical record. If you look up images of a "medical record" in Google you get something like this:

medical record folders

This is slowly (perhaps, quickly) going away...to be replaced with devices like this...

tablet with medical record screen

No doubt we can support the usefulness of this sort of record keeping...reduced errors, better communication between providers, etc. But who can get access to these records and since they are so portable (they can be sent across the street or around the world in second).

Clearly this initiative is coming first from the government and is being promoted across the country. In fact, my college (Kennebec Valley Community College) has an online program related to preparing medical personnel to be in-house experts in Electronic Medical Records.

Click HERE to visit the KVCC Electronic Health Record Professional Development Program.

This is an emerging field of study. Not all the doctor's offices in the area are enthusiastic about the switch to a shared electronic system. Many have invested a lot of resources into developing their own practices which appeal to the unique qualities of the doctors themselves and their staff. To standardize is to give up some of that autonomy.

Have you ever had to change the way you did something because a new "standard" was introduced?

Chapter 10: Information Resources: Computer-Assisted Instruction, Expert Systems, Health Information Online Electronic Age

One of the challenges of the "information age" or "electronic age" is that we have to become better consumers of information. We need to engage our critical thinking skills and evaluate the source of information that we get on the Web.

critique scale - excellent is selected

When I first started in college my access to information was very limited. It was centered in the college library (no computers) and often involved the help of a librarian well versed in steering me away from information that was not considered valid or academic. Under these circumstances pretty much anything I looked up or ordered (interlibrary loan to get an article we didn't have on campus) could be assumed to be a good source.

With as much information as we have at our fingertips now, we have to be careful consumers. For good and bad, no one really monitors what is posted on the Internet. Believe me, there is a lot of garbage out there...it may LOOK good, but it may still be garbage!

Click HERE to view a guide for evaluating websites published by the UC Berkeley.

Click HERE to view a set of guidelines for evaluating websites published by the Cornell University Library

NOTE: This will be key information to consider when you are organizing this week's assignment, the Annotated Bibliography.

The textbook also includes a link to the HealthFinder website supported by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Chapter 12: Security and Privacy in an Electronic Age

In this Chapter you are introduced to the efforts (law and technology) that are being employed to keep our information secure.

Do you think there is enough going on to protect your confidentiality?
What solutions to these problems do you see could still be considered?

Required Video Presentations

In this week you are required to view a selection of videos.

The first video is actually the introduction of a longer video on the rules related to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). For a comprehensive set of resources on HIPAA, for both consumers and practitioners, click HERE to visit the US Department of Health and Human Services page on Privacy.

The second video is a time lapse of the cross-section of a human body...rather bizarre if I can say so!

The third video provides an example of the use of simulators (full body with anatomical function) in the education of health care professionals. More and more colleges and universities are investing in this technology. The functions (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and medical conditions) that express in the simulator are controlled by teachers in a computerized control room. Different scenarios can be created and students have to react appropriately to the specifics of each case.


In this section you will find any specific instructions or ideas I may have for you to support your graded work. Please read the instructions for each task in the course as well as the information I have here.

Discussion: Security and Privacy Concerns

For this discussion I would prefer that you simply focus on finding two peer reviewed articles that discuss privacy issues, rather than the definitions of "privacy" and "confidentiality" in health care. (In fact, once ONE of you has posted the definitions we can all likely agree to it and move into what the research is saying about privacy issues.) Find two "peer reviewed" articles that discuss threats (or even solutions) to security issues and comment on those. (see below for a clear definition of what "peer reviewed" articles are)

Discussion: Information Resources

Similar to the first discussion, let's agree early on on the methods of evaluating web-based resources. I would like each of you to explore various online sources of information and see if you can find credible information. In your post, explain how you APPLIED the standards for evaluating the source. Remember, we are looking ONLY at online resources right now...see below for a discussion on how online resources play a role in your final paper.

Assignment: Annotated Bibliography

In Week 1 you needed to submit a proposal and select an area of interest for your final paper. Review the instructions in Week 5 to get a clear sense of what this paper needs to be about.

This week you will be constructing a list of the resources you are going to use to support your paper. This is pretty much the "hard work" of doing a paper so you need to get started on it very early.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

  • An Annotated Bibliography is a list of the resources (most commonly peer-reviewed) articles that you plan to use in your paper.
  • Each entry includes the following:
    • an APA formatted citation of the article.
    • a brief explanation as to the content of the article and how it will be used in your paper.

What are Peer Reviewed Articles?

  • A Peer Reviewed article is a document created by experts in the field and published in professional journals.
  • The target audience of these articles are NOT students, but other professionals, so students often find them difficult to read and understand.
  • They are NOT found on the web, but they can be found through the Ashford University Library databases.
  • Click HERE for my small web page on the definition of a Peer Reviewed article.

What about all that cool stuff on the Web?

  • The Web is still a very useful place...to START your research, but your research must finish in the Peer Reviewed articles.
  • You can use the web to find names, ideas, and facts...but you need to follow up with confirming this information with the Peer Reviewed articles.
  • Click HERE for a small web page on using Google to get started on your research.

Here is an example, from one of my students at KVCC, of a single entry in an Annotated Bibliography. The title of his research paper is "Do dreams have an effect on our daily moods and behaviors?" (the only change is that the citation should be in "hanging indent" format...this means the first line should start on the left margin and all the other lines should be indented...the opposite of how you would write a paragraph)

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entry

Franklin, M.S., Zyphur, M.J. (2005).The role of dreams in the evolution of the human mind. Evolutionary Psychology, 3: 59-78.

This paper maps out how dreams play a big impact in how our brain is actually formed, and how our personalities, traits and abilities are tied into it.  I am going to use many of the findings to back up the fact that our moods and behavior do have a direct link to how and what we dream.

YOUR Annotated Bibliography must have at least 5 separate peer-reviewed articles. Remember, this part of the assignment is a LOT of the work in putting your paper together...once you have this part done, the rest of the paper is pretty easy to write!