Monday, August 3, 2009

The game is sometimes rigged in favor of the house

High-speed trading: some institutions, including Goldman Sachs, have been using superfast computers to get the jump on other investors, buying or selling stocks a tiny fraction of a second before anyone else can react. Profits from high-frequency trading are one reason Goldman is earning record profits and likely to pay record bonuses.

And there’s a good case that such activities are actually harmful. For example, high-frequency trading probably degrades the stock market’s function, because it’s a kind of tax on investors who lack access to those superfast computers — which means that the money Goldman spends on those computers has a negative effect on national wealth.

So, what's this got to do with information technology in healthcare? Possible, nothing. Remember, however, that one of the stated goals of EHR is to deliver better healthcare at lower cost.

I believe that we should keep in mind that technology - not high-speed computers per se - doesn't always benefit society. As I mention - without much elaboration - in my July 22 post, "EHR / EMR has the potential to facilitate the execution of today's healthcare scams. So, for the time being, we might well have a reason to temper our enthusiasm for the inevitable computerization of our still-largely-paper-bound healthcare records systems."