Healthvault: In summary, so far.

Lets review the problems with HealthVault.

Most of my posts have been centered on the problem with Dr. Deborah Peels endorsement of Microsoft’s Healthvault.
In Medically, Legally, and Politically Savvy but Technically Uninformed. I discuss the fact that Dr. Deborah Peel has endorsed Healthvault, despite being totally unqualified to do so. I also note that no one from the organizations that Dr. Peel represents was both qualified to evaluate the privacy features in HealthVault and actually involved in the evaluation process. Although Dr. Peel had access to some of the top security minds in the industry, she failed to consult them when endorsing HealthVault.

In The Food critic never took a bite I discuss the basic impossibility of knowing if something respects privacy without reading the sourcecode. How can Dr. Peel’s organization endorse the privacy and security of HealthVault without having read the sourcecode?

In Privacy, a Complex Problem Underestimated (which has turned out to be my most popular post on the subject), I discuss the fact that the privacy of patient records is vastly more complex than is allowed by the simplified HealthVault privacy systems.

In Abusing vs Implementing Standards I discuss Microsoft’s history of abusing standards to their own advantage, and the implications this practice could have in the fragile domain of patient medical records.

In Failing the seven generation test, I argue that medical records need to archived for decades if not centuries. Information entrusted with HealthVault is not protected in any way that respects this future need.

I have written more articles, which you can find by clicking the HealthVault category on this website. But I feel that these posts specifically cover areas that Dr. Deborah Peel’s endorsement ignores. Dr. Peel has accepted Microsoft’s platitudes as fact. This is despite the fact that Microsoft is famous in the information security industry for giving assurances with regards to information security without providing comparable investments. Ironically Dr. Peel consistently views Payers, Drug companies and others who presume to profit from patient data as being evil, but Microsoft is given her highest endorsement. This is despite the fact that so many in the technical industry view Microsoft with distrust and apprehension similar to the distrust that those in the medical field often view payers and drug companies.

More troubling still is who Dr. Peel represents. Dr. Peel is the founder of and spokes person for the Patient Privacy Rights organization. Patient Privacy Rights claims to be the nation’s leading medical privacy watchdog organization. More troubling than this, (as if we were already not troubled enough) is the Coalition for Patient Privacy. This is a meta-organization that includes lots of very legitimate interests. Further, most of the activities that this coalition puts forward are pretty meaningful, for instance, they recently delivered a letter to congress, which asks for some pretty reasonable things. In fact if I was called before Congress and was asked to give that letter a thumbs up or down, I would endorse it. I would also point out that Microsoft as a signer is laughable. The problem is that in the same breath that it asks Congress to do good things, it gives a blank check to Microsoft to do bad things.

I will be contacting some members of the Coalition to see what can be done about this.


Fred Trotter