Data and Customer Service

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Data and Customer Service

  • It's even harder when you're hired by a customer to handle the health care data of all their customers. Sometimes you run into the conflict between serving your customer and serving their customers. Nobody can serve two masters; certain actions or disclosures are not illegal but I can't help asking myself every now and then: Do I really want to facilitate this? I do feel responsible but I have to obey the orders of my customer as long as it's legal. Still, I'm often the first one to start the discussion about these doubtful actions, wether they like it or not ...

  • Just a minor correction from the editorial: It states that I am from 4GuysFromRolla. I am not. My blog exists on


  • With respect to you Mr. Magnabosco, I'm not sure what alternative reality you live in, but more often than not in the real world, things do not work with the "wonderfulness" you seem to be describing.

    Case in point... Many years ago I had a blood test that was skewed and presented a false reading on my sugar levels. To my ultimate shock, I was then labeled "diabetic" even though I was tested again (the next day) and things were in fact perfectly normal.

    This mislabeling chased me for SEVEN years. All my doctors, my insurance providers, and many ancillary providers now saw me as a diabetic. My life insurance went up, and not only that, I could not get all the coverage I wanted - the company would not provide that to a "diabetic".

    I spent months and months, and finally YEARS trying to get this one test, ONE reading, removed from medical history. Everytime I contacted health providers I was told "Sorry, we cannot remove that without..." and then I would get some runaround or "process" laid out to me that I had no time for - especially since this was originally the lab's mistake.

    Finally ultimately frustrated, I hired a lawyer and after shelling out about $1000 he chased down the medical reporting outfit and they agreed to remove the data under threat of lawsuit. Funny, even though they did, I still see doctors at times and they mention "Oh, you have diabetes" until they read the actual numbers and see I don't. I still cannot get the life insurance I want because even though the data is removed, its in their records and thats all they care about.

    In other words, that data is still out there, still wrong, still affecting my life and still, I cannot get it completely expunged.

    If you go through something like this, trust me, you will hardly see any record providers as "benevolent caretakers" of data just waiting to help the client. What I learned is that they don't give a damn about me (the client), and they simply presume that if its in the database it MUST be correct.

    When the customer's trust is honored??? Huh??? Where does THAT happen??? Not in any reality I have lived!

    Its more a case of "if the computer says so - it must be right" (even when it is not).

    There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...
  • A couple of points.

    1) I agree that we should be asking questions, but so should the person making the request of you, and the person/sales person that passed the request, as should the originator of the request. There are lots of opportunities to head off an improper request. It is EVEYONE'S responsibility to question the need and the request.

    2) The person with the bad lab. I feel for you. You did take the right approach, however your lawyer blew it. He should have required the lab to notify whoever they set the results to AND provide the you the names of those people. He then should have used the same 'negotiation' technique until he got to the company that reported the data to the massive insurance db that health and life insurers pay to data form. Once that data is deleted from that db, you should be able to get the life insurance people to repull the data after that. Its a pain but you need to keep on this.

    Remember, in this country, you don't own the test results. The group that paid for the test own the results. NOT you. We need some laws changes but that ain't happenin' anytime soon.

  • In respect to the above responses I would like to state that my editorial did not suggest that I am representing the current state of the world. My point is to illustrate that a database professional needs to view customer data differently than they may currently. To not only view their job as a data gatherer; but an extension to what is traditionally viewed as customer service.

    If the database professional is not looking out for the security and integrity of a customer's data you can be sure that no one is. While confidentiality and integrity of a customer's data is indeed everyone's responsibility, it has to start with someone who is willing to accept the responsibility. I am suggesting that we, the database professionals, need to be willing to take that on. Especially when it is evident that no one else is.

  • I wish the world were like what is described in the editorial. But even over here, where we have pretty strong data protection laws, it isn't like that. Mostly the holders of data don't give a damn about the person who is the subject of that data. But the subject has a very good chance of getting errors corrected, and getting people who play fast and loose with his trust punished, if he finds out about it - and we have laws requiring the people who control the data to provide the suject with details for a small (varies from country to country, but typically about 10 euros) fee if he requests them, so someone who suspects a problem (and a fortiori someone who knows there is a problem, like blandry who posted his tale of woe above) can get things fixed quite quickly and cheaply.

    Warning - here beginneth the RANT

    The EU insists on "safe harbour" provisions for any personal data passed from a company inthe EU to one in the USA. Most of us over here think that those "safe harbour" provisions are hopelessly weak, but we know that getting even that much out of the USA was like squeezing blood out of a stone - the USA establishment apparently cares nothing for the well-being of the data-subjects, it cares only for the well-being of the corporations / foundations / rich individuals who make big campaign donations come congressional election time, and was extremely reluctant to provide for EU citizens a protection which it denies to its own citizens subjects. So I suspect that the editorial is describing a dream world that will never exist in the USA unless the American people stage another revolution to restore to themselves the sovereignty guaranteed by their consitution but usurped by the currently ruling plutocracy.


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