CVS Acquisition Of Target Pharmacy Might Pose Data Security Risk


2000px-CVS_Pharmacy_Alt_Logo.svgA recent acquisition by retail giant CVS of the pharmacy business of Target last week looked to be a mighty fine deal all around.

But there may be an underlying factor that could put those new customers at serious risk online.

The merger gives CVS a total of close to 10,000 pharmacies and a little over 1,000 clinics in its nationwide network.

The issue at hand lies in the possible security risks at hand, and CVS has had their issues protecting customer information in the past, being fined $2.5 million by the Federal Trade Commission for getting rid of highly sensitive records in 2009.

Observers worry that the data involved, which is the largest bulk collection of pharmacy data globally, could potentially be exposed by carelessness or possible deliberate measures by disgruntled employees.

Add to that the fact that pharmacy data is considered by security experts as among the most sensitive, due to the permanence of medical records, and the concern grows larger.

It remains to be seen how CVS will address these issues internally.

Christopher A. Smith


Google Patents Contact Lens That Utilizes Iris Biometrics


Google X Announces Prototype For Smart Contact Lens For DiabeticsGoogle has a fixation on clarity.

A fact that seems evident given the news concerning a new technological development of theirs.

Recent reports have confirmed that Google has obtained a patent on a new technology that utilizes contact lenses as identification tools.

Specifically, the iris is the centerpiece of the new patent.

The contact lens would cover all or part of the iris, and the surface contains light sensors that capture all reflected light from the iris itself.

The sensors create an image of the iris, and then attempt to match that image with one stored in its memory.

The patent information itself doesn’t elaborate on what the technology is intended for, but it can be assumed that biometric authenticating is the end goal.

This new patent may go hand in hand with work that Google is currently pursuing the testing and production of smart contact lenses that would help to monitor blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Data can be obtained every second by tears entering the lens to be examined by a microchip and sensors embedded in the double layering of the lens.

Christopher A. Smith


IBM Picks Up Explorys and Phytel


IBM Picks Up Explorys and PhytelIBM has acquired two tech startups: Explorys and Phytel.

Phytel offers cloud-based services in the healthcare space.

Explorys, also a healthcare startup, specializes in intelligence data.

Stephen McHale, CEO and co-founder, Explorys said “Every encounter that a patient has across the continuum of care spins off a meaningful piece of data that can help tell the whole story about an individual’s health to improve the quality and effectiveness of their care…Information is changing the way care is delivered and paid for. The combination of Explorys technology with IBM’s powerful Health Cloud and Watson cognitive capabilities will expand the reach of health insights so that Big Data can finally be used more easily to transform healthcare. This relationship will not only accelerate but enhance many of the projects underway with our provider organizations.”

Steve Schelhammer, CEO of Phytel, said “Phytel was founded on the principle of delivering patients continuous proactive care and providing collective information about the ongoing health of patients across entire communities…By combining our powerful population health management capabilities with the cognitive insight of IBM, once the acquisition closes, together we will help providers turn insight into action to improve health quality.”


App That Made Phony Cancer Detection Claims Hit By FTC Fine


App That Made Phony Cancer Detection Claims Hit By FTC FineMelApp has been hit with a $17,963 fine for making false cancer claims via their app.

The app, which sold for $1.99, enabled users to snap a pic of suspect skin lesions, and then have a determination made as to whether the skin mark was cancerous.

Mole Detective, a similar type of app, also came under the scrutiny of the FTC a few months back.


Sharing Of Electronic Medical Records Becoming Complex


Sharing Of Electronic Medical Records Becoming ComplexThe sharing of electronic medical data us becoming a complex issue, as many vendors of electronic health records have costly and difficult methods in place.

That, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), as reported here.

They have released a report that details the issues involved and the challenges posed to providers.

The ONC wrote in a blog post “Health information blocking occurs when persons or entities knowingly and unreasonably interfere with the exchange or use of electronic health information…some individual participants in the health care and health IT industries have strong incentives to exercise control over electronic health information in ways that unreasonably interfere with its exchange and use, including for patient care.”


Premera Blue Cross Lawsuits Begin


Premera Blue Cross Lawsuits BeginPremera Blue Cross is the subject of no less than five class action lawsuits; the result of a massive data breach that exposed 11 million medical records, and which was brought to light last month.

According to a report, the suits were filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Attorney Darrell Cochran, of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, in Tacoma, who is representing a couple of victims of the data breach, said “Right now everyone is operating in the dark about what information has been taken and who might have taken it.”

Read more on this story here.


Johnson & Johnson Partners With Google To Create Surgical Robots


Johnson & Johnson Partners With Google To Create Surgical RobotsAt some point in the future, your surgeon may be a robot.

Johnson & Johnson and Google are joining forces to create surgical robots and further develop robotic technology.

Gary Pruden, Worldwide Chairman, Global Surgery Group, Johnson & Johnson, said “For more than 60 years, Ethicon has developed products and technologies that have transformed the way surgery is done…This collaboration with Google is another important step in our commitment to advancing surgical care, and together, we aim to put the best science, technology and surgical know-how in the hands of medical teams around the world.”


SAP Medical App May Have Allowed Bogus Data To Be Uploaded


SAP Medical App May Have Allowed Bogus Data To Be UploadedTwo security flaws found within SAP’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Unwired app have been corrected.

The issues were found to possibly allow the uploads of fake patient records, this, according to Alexander Polyakov, CTO of ERPScan, in a report found here.

An SQL injection was discovered to let other apps gain access to the EMR Unwired database.

Polyakov said in a phone interview “For example, you can upload malware to the phone, and this malware will be able to get access to this embedded database of this health care application…You can send fake information about the medical records, so you can imagine what can be done after that…You can say, ‘This patient is not ill’.”

The issues were fixed around a month ago.


Facebook To Provide Tools To Help Suicidal Users


Facebook To Provide Tools To Help Suicidal UsersFacebook will be providing assistance to users who express suicidal intentions. The assistance will be offered via messages that will be presented to users that Facebook feels may be at risk.

“Keeping you safe is our most important responsibility on Facebook…Keeping you safe is our most important responsibility on Facebook.” Facebook wrote in a post on their website.

They added “If someone on Facebook sees a direct threat of suicide, we ask that they contact their local emergency services immediately…We also ask them to report any troubling content to us…we have significantly expanded the support and resources that are available to them the next time they log on to Facebook after we review a report of something they’ve posted.”

The new program is expected to be rolled out to users over the next few months.


Google Has Added Fact-Checked Health Results To Search


Google Has Added Fact-Checked Health Results To SearchOn their continued quest to offer more search results from their Knowledge Graph, Google has now added fact-checked health results.

Google promises that the search results are pulled from top quality medical sources.

Of course, one should not solely rely on such data as a replacement for sound medical advice, however, it’s a great tool for peole to quickly look up highly sought after health and medical information.

The new results will be available over the next few days.