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Finding a Cure: The Case for Regulation and Oversight of Electronic Health Record Systems

Sharona Hoffman, J.D. - Professor of Law and Bioethics; Co-Director of the Law-Medicine Center; Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Andy Podgurski, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Friday September 7, 2007
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Inamori Center
Room 9 Crawford Hall

Dear Colleagues:

If President Bush and a whole lot of pages in the health policy journals are to be believed, the key to improving America's health care system is through applications of health information technology. A swiftly-growing mound of literature documents quality failures that could have been avoided if caregivers had better information about individual patients, or better information about the performance of medical treatments across the population of patients. The key to better information is creation of an integrated medical record, available to all caregivers for any patient and to researchers as well.

There are a lot of reasons why this could be a pipedream, but the most obvious is that many Americans don't like the idea of an integrated medical record. They, and interest groups that claim to represent such sentiments, believe such records would violate rights to privacy and very easily be misused.

If there are any solutions to this problem we'll need good lawyers and Professor Sharona Hoffmangood computer scientists to find them. And it so happens that we have such a pair here on campus: Sharona Hoffman, Professor of Law and Bioethics, and Andy Podgurski, Associate Professor of Electrical EngineeringProfessor Andy Podgurski and Computer Science. This year they have published articles on the topic in both the Journal of Internet Law and the Boston College Law Review, and continue to investigate what kind of regulatory and security structure might address the privacy concerns. They'll talk about that at the Public Affairs Lunch Discussion this Friday, September 7. And I'm sure some participants might think of some other questions about the whole issue - such as how anybody will ever get medical providers (for example, the Clinic, UH, and a country doctor in western Pennsylvania) to all agree on a common structure!

The lunch is brown bag, but cookies and some beverages are provided. Thank you to Dr. Greg Eastwood, Inamori Center Director, for making the space available. Thank you to Lara Kalafatis and the Office of Alumni Relations, Development and Events for initial funding for the costs of beverages and cookies. We are also collecting contributions from generous souls towards the remaining costs of refreshments; please contact Joe White (; 368-2426) if you can help out!

The remainder of this e-mail reports what we know about the schedule for the rest of the semester. We will be sending out announcements each week. If you would prefer not to receive the announcements, please inform Dr. Andrew Lucker, Associate Director of the Center for Policy Studies, by e-mail (

About Our Guests

Ms. Hoffman joined the faculty in 1999 and has taught civil procedure, employment discrimination, various health law courses and seminars, and a seminar entitled "Religion, Ethics, and the Law." Prior to obtaining her LL.M. in health law, Ms. Hoffman was a Senior Trial Attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Houston, an associate at O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, where she spent much of her time working on the Exxon Valdez oil spill case, and a judicial clerk for U.S. District Judge Douglas W. Hillman (Western District of Michigan). Professor Hoffman spent the spring semester of 2007 as a Guest Researcher at The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions' Public Health Law Program. She has published articles on employment discrimination, health insurance, disability law, biomedical research, the concept of race and its use in law and medicine, and health information technology. She is a frequent speaker on health law and civil rights issues and has been widely quoted in the media, including the L.A. Times, USA Today, and the New York Times.

Andy Podgurski main research interest is methodology to support the development, validation, and evolution of complex software systems. He is currently investigating techniques for advanced software design, software testing, software security validation, intrusion detection, and mining of software repositories. I currently teach software engineering, computer security, and advanced software design.

Andy Podgurski is an Associate Professor of Computer Science in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, where he has been a faculty member since 1989. He received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Professor Podgurski has conducted research on software engineering methodology and related topics for nearly twenty years and have many publications in these areas. He also worked extensively with industry on software engineering projects and taught software engineering, computer security, distributed systems, computer networks, software testing, compiler design, and algorithm design.

Friday Lunch and Other Public Affairs Upcoming Topics and Speakers: (as of August 27)

Sept 14: The Euclid Corridor Project. Joe Calabrese, General Manager, Greater Cleveland Regionial Transit Authority

Sept 17 University Event: Religion and the Constitution. In Ford Auditorium, 4:30 - 6:00. Moderated by Jonathan Entin, Professor of Law and Political Science. Speakers will be George W. Dent Jr., Professor of Law; Gary Simson, Professor and Dean of Law; and Joseph White, Professor of Political Science

Sept 21: Attitudes Towards Terrorism Within Muslim Nations. Karl Kaltenthaler, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director, Center for Policy Studies, University of Akron

Sept 28: The Roberts Court. Jonathan Adler, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Business Law and Regulation; and Jonathan Entin, Professor of Law and Political Science

Oct 5: Women in Corporate Leadership. Diana Bilimoria, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior.

Oct 12: Clean, Lean and Green? The Great Lakes Institute for Energy Research at Case Western Reserve University. J. Iwan D. Alexander, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director, National Center for Space Exploration and Research; and Norman Tien, Dean, Case School of Engineering.

Oct 19: The Peanut Allergy Puzzles. Dr. Alton Melton, Section Head, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Other Friday Lunch topics and speakers TBA.

Also coming to campus:

October 25, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m., Ford Auditorium. Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University (and Dean of Graduate Studies 2005-2007). A former President of both the American Political Science Association and of the Social Science History Association, among many other contributions, Dr. Skocpol is one of the most distinguished political scientists in the country.

November 12, 4:15 - 5:45 p.m., Ford Auditorium. Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, will speak on "The Invisible Primary: Money, Media and Polls in the 2008 Presidential Race."

For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see

September 4 , 2007

A weekly newsletter published by the Center for Policy Studies, Case Western Reserve University. Submit items for inclusion to:

Upcoming Events

Third Annual Constitution Day Forum: Religion and the Constitution

Monday September 17, 2007
4:30 p.m.6:00 p.m.
Ford Auditorium,
Allen Medical Library
Adelbert and Euclid Avenue
Case Western Reserve University

One of the most widely-disputed issues about the American Constitution involves the relationship it might create between church and state.  In the world of the late 18th century, this was normally viewed as involving the relationship between distinct secular and religious institutions, particularly whether any individual church would be "established" with the support of the state.  In the United States of the 21st century, it involves a host of controversies involving public policy and public displays of religious belief.  Those controversies are debated within a context in which religious beliefs and intensity of religious practice are widely described as one of the divisions driving American partisan politics.

For Constitution Day, 2007, faculty of Case Western Reserve University's School of Law and Department of Political Science will address issues of religion and the Constitution.  Joseph White, Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy, will talk about the boundaries of the issue: how religious beliefs have always been central to American politics and religious institutions are currently part of public policy, regardless of the questions that might be raised about what the First Amendment allows or requires.  Then George W. Dent Jr., the Schott - van den Eyden Professor of Law, and Gary J. Simson, the Joseph C. Hostetler - Baker & Hostetler Professor and Dean of the School of Law, will address issues of constitutional interpretation, including the effects of the First Amendment prohibition that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

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