Patient Privacy Rights grades five PHRs

Patient Privacy Rights, a health privacy watchdog group, has released a new report card grading five personal health record platforms.

“We wanted to highlight a number of concerns over lack of control by patients,” said Ashley Katz, executive director of Patient Privacy Rights. “The good news is there are some companies that keep your personal health info secure. The bad news is that there are some companies that don’t give patients control over their PHR.”

Group officials say the report card, which graded companies including CapMed/Metavante, Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault, NoMoreClipboard and WebMD, is designed to educate and protect consumers.

"Our assessment of five different PHRs found a wide range of existing privacy policies," a statement from the group read. "Some PHRs protect our rights to control who can see and use health information, and others outright violate those rights. One PHR shares all personal information with employers and insurers, for example."

The grading system was based on multiple constitutional, state and federal laws regarding personal privacy, said PPR officials, and included evaluating any partners and applications.

PPR officials gave an explanation of each letter grade:

A – 4.0 to 5.0 – Excellent: No invasive practices, solid protection, assurance of privacy rights and user-friendly.
B – 3.1 to 3.9 – Fairly comprehensive efforts and privacy protection with room for improvement.
C – 2.6 to 3.0 – The platform provides some privacy safeguards, but has multiple key flaws and weak protections.
D – 2.0 to 2.5 – Few, if any, safeguards and protections, and/or misleading information, and/or not user-friendly.
F – 1.0 to 1.9 – The PHR threatens patient privacy and control over personal information either through inaction or actual business practice.

NoMoreClipboard PHR ranked best with an “A” for privacy protection. CapMed/Metavante and WebMD followed with “C” ratings.

Microsoft HealthVault was given a "B" for its platform, but received an "F" for other partners and programs. Google Health received the lowest score with a “D” for platform privacy policies and an “F” for their partners and programs.

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