Microsoft May Put Health Records at Risk
It's bad enough when you're sick or injured; you're at your most vulnerable.
You don't want to be worrying about someone getting at your personal information
and health records at the same time. That's what some fear may happen with the
advent of a new medical records management site.
Microsoft has rolled
out a Web site called HealthVault, a new medical records site described
as "part filing cabinet, part library." Users can get on the site
to store and manage their own medical records, including reports from regular
physicals, immunization records and reports from specialists. They can also
opt to have information sent to other doctors as needed.
Although the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
gives doctors and those in the medical profession broad access to patient records,
privacy experts fear that the easy access granted by a site like HealthVault
opens the door for abuse. Giving patients control over their data adds to their
convenience, but they may not always be as careful as they should be.
How do you feel health records should be managed? Do laws like HIPAA do enough?
Should it be more expansive? In this age of open information, can such personal
data ever be truly safe? You'll feel better if you let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More News for MSNBC
MSNBC has picked up Newsvine
in an attempt to make its news pages more interactive. Newsvine encourages readers
to respond, post their views and tell their stories from their perspective,
a so-called "social news" source. Viewers can post their own articles,
comment on existing articles, add links to other sites that relate to posted
content and so on.
MSNBC Interactive News just announced the Newsvine acquisition, the first ever
for MSNBC. It intends to maintain Newsvine as a separate brand, but will share
content and certain features with the MSNBC site.
It's not simply the extra clicks that MSNBC wants (currently, Newsvine draws
about 1 million users per month, compared to MSNBC's 29 million). Newsvine brings
the social networking aspect so popular in sites like Facebook. Competing news
sites already have an interactive component to one degree or another.
How do you feel about writing your own news? Ever find yourself yelling at
the TV screen or your computer when checking news sites on the Web? Would you
contribute your thoughts and stories to something like this? Contribute your
opinion to me at email@example.com.
Google Shares Hit Landmark
Google shares briefly hit their highest point ever on Monday during trading,
over the $600 mark. Shares settled below that by the end of the day.
By contrast, Google shares were $85 in 2004 at its IPO. Currently valued at
$187 billion, Google is the 11th largest company according to Standard &
Poor's 500 Index by market capitalization.
While reaching the $600 mark was a significant milestone, some Wall Street
watchers expect Google to break the $700 mark in the coming year as it continues
to expand into other areas. Stock price is another area where those feisty Googlers
are giving the Redmondians a run for their money.
Do you own any Google stock? What do you think about Google's increasing prominence
and expansion into new markets? You won't have to search hard to find me at
Another Personal Data Spill
The state of Massachusetts inadvertently sent
out disks containing contact information for professional licensees -- people
who have to apply for and obtain a state license to work in their chosen profession,
like certified public accountants and health care administrators.
The names, addresses and, in some cases, Social Security numbers of more than
450,000 licensed professionals on 28 separate disks were recently distributed
to various locations. Nearly all of the missing disks have been recovered with
no information compromised. The one missing disk, which contains information
on nursing home administrators, was reportedly sent to an agency in California
and is still in transit.
The state blamed the gaffe on new software it's using to distribute the information.
Apparently, the software was supposed to delete the Social Security numbers.
Seems this type of story is becoming disturbingly regular. How does your organization
protect personal data? What safeguards do you take for your own personal data?
Confide in me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.