I have to admit that I was a bit dismayed, but fascinated, by the giant Microsoft booth at the recent AAP show in SF. The fascination came from the cool vein-finder tool (if you saw it, you know what I'm talking about - I can't find a link quickly). The dismay came from the hype surrounding M$'s interaction with your patients.
You see, they made it clear, with shiny smiling faces, that they already have their fingers into most of the vendors - EHR, PM, equipment, clearinghouses, it doesn't matter - and they are pushing their Microsoft HealthVault.
Medco Health shares some Non-Personally Identifiable Information, aggregated by demographic category (age, for example), about users with Affiliates or sponsors of prescription drug plans that Medco Health administers. This is not linked to any information that can identify any individual.
It took me all of 3 minutes of fine-print reading to find that. There are others:
Premera obtains information necessary to provide products and services, conduct normal business, and comply with the law. Premera may disclose Personal Information we obtain about a user as described above with other Premera family companies or with other Affiliates or Third Parties for our normal business functions. Premera's family of companies includes life insurers, health plans, disability insurers, stop loss insurers, Third Party administrators, and insurance agencies. Companies outside of Premera's family of companies include service providers, health care providers, other health plans, and other insurers. Examples of how we serve users in our normal business functions include: Marketing products or services...
G. Aggregated Information
Affiliates may combine Personal Health Information in non-identifiable formats into Non-Personally Identifiable Information and disclose it to Third Parties. Aggregated information does not contain any information that could be used to contact or identify a user.
The bottom line? If you use the amazingly wonderful tool from Microsoft to drag your health record with you wherever you go, M$ will be selling your data to the highest bidders and making good money off of you. Sounds great, right?