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NC State professor works to ensure that our privacy is protected amidst healthcare reform!

“Doctors are being paid to install healthcare IT software that is intended to protect the privacy of patients, but we feel that the guidance the government is giving on what it means to be secure is insufficient.”


Dr. Laurie Williams, Professor at NC State, is currently involved in researching healthcare information technology… specifically the security of applications that doctors and hospitals run so that when patient data is entered in the system, it should not be possible to steal or change that information. One of the questions her research group is investigating… are the government standards adequate?


“Using computer science, you can impact society. The healthcare issue is only one example of how.”


This is happening NOW. Doctors and hospitals are currently installing software to meet the requirement and to get their incentive money. Dr. Williams is concerned that the software being installed to keep information safe will not be doing its job. The information discovered in her team’s research will be presented to the certification bodies that certify the healthcare applications in the hopes that they will make changes and fix the applications being installed across the nation. If not, they will take their research to higher governing bodies.


Laurie WilliamsAnd Dr. Williams isn’t just working to keep patients’ privacy intact. She is also one of the foremost researchers in agile software development, which changes the way software is developed so that it allows for more input and flexibility. Needs change and requirements can be subject to interpretation. By building in shorter term deliverables, software developers have less wasted time on projects and improved quality of the products being delivered. The greater vision remains, but the process allows for alterations and flexibility.


There are no limits to the ways the computer scientists can impact the world around them and improve the ways that things are done. Whether dealing with healthcare or technology or anything else that your mind can conceive of, the work of computer scientists make a difference that can change the world.