Cloud computing puts your health data at risk

Stuart johnston By Stuart J. Johnston

The advent of “in the cloud” medical records services, such as Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health, promises an explosion in the storage of personal health-care information online.

But these services pose sticky privacy questions — unless you know how to protect your personal medical records.

A promise of safer personal health data

Your private health information is migrating wholesale onto the public network with the advent of online health-care records stored in massive data centers around the world.

While the services aim to make it easier for consumers to access and manage their personal health information, the ready availability of this data also makes it much easier and less expensive for insurers to put your medical history under the microscope.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. You voluntarily grant access to that sensitive information every time you sign a waiver so that your health insurer can decide whether to pay for a doctor’s visit, a prescription, or an expensive medical test.

What’s more, most of the gathering and collating of this information is legal. In fact, the number of companies that have access to this information runs into the millions, say privacy advocates.

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