Warning on Storage of Health Records

Steve Lohr writes in the New York Times:

In an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, two leading researchers warn that the entry of big companies like Microsoft and Google into the field of personal health records could drastically alter the practice of clinical research and raise new challenges to the privacy of patient records.

The authors, Dr. Kenneth D. Mandl and Dr. Isaac S. Kohane, are longtime proponents of the benefits of electronic patient records to improve care and help individuals make smarter health decisions.

But their concern, stated in the article published Wednesday and in an interview, is that the medical profession and policy makers have not begun to grapple with the implications of companies like Microsoft and Google becoming the hosts for vast stores of patient information.


Peter Neupert, the vice president in charge of Microsoft’s health group, said that he admired the authors and that they raised some important issues. But he resisted the suggestion of extending Hipaa to newcomers like Microsoft and Google.

“Philosophically and politically, I am skeptical of the concept of paternalism,” Mr. Neupert said in an e-mail response to the article, which he was sent, and to the authors’ comments. “It never turns out to be ‘limited.’ ”

Full story – NY Times

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