one small step for patient safety, one big, hovering step that has the potential to quash a lot of unsuspecting people for Big Brother

Dear Microsoft,

It seems that you have taken the plunge off the deep end first and are offering a free site where people can store their medical information. Lots of it. And allow others, should they so choose, to access it.

Now, I can completely see the potentially altruistic merit in this, particularly for someone with multiple doctors, a lot of ongoing testing or for someone who may travel a lot: easy, near instant access [assuming the relevant people have been granted access] to medical history, recent results and prescriptions. Doctors and medical staff could get important information and save time and, perhaps, lives.


Privacy issues on the part of the patient aside [and I do not toss this aside lightly – this is a huge issue], have you asked if medical professionals are really going to want to use this? Who has entered the data and where is it coming from? Who has verified it? Are reference ranges and interpretations included with the laboratory test results? No hospital would think of accepting my blood donor card as proof of my blood type: I fail to see the difference in an online, personal website that states my last thyroid function test was acceptable. Oh and, at least the donor card is issued by a blood collection and testing facility! Simply, you do not seem to have created some sort of universal hospital information system. Now that would be useful for patients. And doctors. I’m not quite sure who this new site is useful for, at the moment, other than someone who has a lot of medical information that they want to keep track of themselves. Which they could do in an Excel or a fancy-schamcy Access file. It’s okay – you’d still get royalties or whatever from that.

And, let’s get back to those privacy issues. I put out a lot of info – blogs, facebook, email, flickr – and I have no doubt that, by some standards, it’s too much. And part of me feels that I have nothing to hide. But I did consciously decide not to become part of the ancestral genome project, despite the proverbial burning curiosity to do so. I have watched too many X-Files episodes and the conspiracy theories set of too many little warning buzzers to allow me to send out my DNA. No, my cholesterol result can create a clone, but it does tell you something about me, dear Microsoft. And not everyone who gets to see it necessary needs to know about it. You can’t tell me that no one else – no one who works for HealthVault? – would see it.

Now, before you call me on it, you’re right: I may very well blog about my recent pap test or my daughter’s urinalysis [there’s a first for everything]. But I see no need to have the test results uploaded to a public website – no matter how secure [ish] you may claim it to be – on the off chance that another health care professional may want to have a look at it on their Blackberry some day. And if they did? I’d find one who would rather access the information from the validated hospital or laboratory information system in an accredited facility.

I’m just saying. You jumped first. I hope there’s a pool of patients and medical staff out there waiting for you…

5 responses to “one small step for patient safety, one big, hovering step that has the potential to quash a lot of unsuspecting people for Big Brother

  1. Hi Jenn!!!!!!
    I swear I havenot been ignoring you….for some evry strange reason everytime I came to your blog I.E. would totally crash!!!
    No lie!
    Do not ask me why because I have no idea but this time it didn’t!!
    Man I have some reading & video posts to catch up on!
    The magpie has probably grown at least 2 inches since the last time I was here!

  2. I agree entirely about the security of information on the internet – and the huge gamble Microsoft is taking.

    There is no way in the world I would trust Microsoft to keep my data secure. You only have to look at Windows security record.

  3. mackey – not to worry 🙂 I had some script on the page that was occasionally loading a little slow for me, but found out from two others (now three!) that it was completely messing up their systems. I’ve since taken it away and all seems to be fine now – glad to see you back!!

  4. Oh of all people to trust my medical info with, Microsoft is probably the last. And I’m the cynic so I’m sitting her wondering how much of it is going to be sold by Microsoft to pharma companies so that our drugs can be even more tailored, more advertised. Just what we need.

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