25th > November > 2006 Archive
Confessions of an analystConfessions of an analyst A couple of months, I committed the cardinal sin of criticising a mobile device without actually having used one. When I posted my initial reaction to the BlackBerry 8100 “Pearl” here, I was bothered by the thought that RIM had sold out its loyal business users by bowing to the pressure of the consumer market and cluttering the most effective mobile email product line available today with a gimmicky track-ball and trivialities such as a camera and media player. Time to swallow hard and admit my mistake.
The Care Records Development Board (CRDB) is preparing to pilot online patient access to medical records, it said this week, but it hasn't yet worked out what kind of authentication procedures or security system it will use. The pilot, which is expected to involve around 50 patients initially, is slated for "some time next year", and the CRDB wants to get stakeholder feedback on how the authentication and security should be run. Mat Jordan, who works on the HealthSpace project, explained that the problem was making sure the registration is easy enough that people will do it, but robust enough that no one can impersonate anyone else. Similarly, the security of login has to balance safety and confidentiality with a system that people will use, he noted. Access to patient care records stored on the spine will be through the HeathSpace website. This is where you go to use the Choose and Book service, and you can elect to store certain details about yourself in a private HealthSpace of your own. At the moment there is no link to any external database from a HealthSpace account and the only information stored there is what a user chooses to put in, so there is no authentication at sign up. When the site becomes the gateway for access to the summary care record, this will change and a much more robust identification and sign in system will be deployed. The question is, what will it look like? The CRDB has several solutions in mind, ranging from a basic username and password system to a key token in conjunction with a username and password login. Biometric technologies have been ruled out as they are considered too immature to be relied upon. A lesson there for the ID card project, perhaps. Delegates at the CRDB conference in London this week were divided on what they thought was adequate proof of identity to sign up, and what kind of access security they would be happy with, but there were some common threads. Most thought some form of established identification - passport or drivers licence, for instance - should be provided to register for access, and many said that original documents, not photocopies, should be required. Delegates did suggest the CRDB think carefully about making the system accessible to those without traditional forms of identification, such as those with no fixed address. As for logging on, the majority thought holding any token - be it a USB key or a one time pad, would be too much hassle, and that username and password, plus some additional facts, would be enough. "The banking model should work," one delegate said. Another point that needs to be rectified is access for those who opt not to share their medical records. If I opt out, I can't access my own record online without flagging a priority one alert - signalling access to a restricted record. That throws up all kinds of audit flags. Jordan told El Reg that sorting this was just a technical issue, rather than a question of policy, and that it was on the list of things they needed to rectify. ®
LettersLetters You know how it is. You have a mobile phone. You use it regularly, so you keep it in your pocket, where it is easily accessible. Then it goes yellow. You what? We can only wonder: what has it got in its pocketses?
CommentComment As the Web 2.0 bandwagon continues its rapidly accelerating path downhill towards the inevitable crash we find ourselves at another turning point in the development of the networked world.
Two new and baleful reports about "microwave radiation" revived the mast hysteria in the UK this week: one, an attempt by "3" to build a new phone tower and the other, a series of schools claiming ill effects from Wi-Fi. By coincidence, both reports were written by journalists with the same surname. Joanna Bale wrote in The Times about schools in Ysgol Pantycelyn, Carmarthenshire, Chichester and Buckinghamshire which have dismantled Wi-Fi networks, while David Bale produced a report in the Norwich Evening News about a campaign to halt a "3" 3G phone mast. Both reports have quoted "scientists" - and in both cases, it seems the source for this, is the mysterious comment by Professor Sir William Stewart, who headed a Health Protection Agency investigation into microwave and health. Sir William has never explained his original comments, which he made personally at the press conference announcing the HPA report, and in which he disagreed with the findings of the report itself. Staff at the HPA have told NewsWireless that "we don't know what he based his comment on, and we're not in a position to ask him to elaborate." Today's story in The Times, if validated, offers real evidence of objective health damage caused by wireless. "Stowe School, the Buckinghamshire public school, also removed part of its wireless network after a teacher became ill. Michael Bevington, a classics teacher for 28 years at the school, said that he had such a violent reaction to the network that he was too ill to teach," wrote Joanna Bale. Bevington describes symptoms which have not previously been assigned to wireless reponse: "I felt a steadily widening range of unpleasant effects whenever I was in the classroom. First came a thick headache, then pains throughout the body, sudden flushes, pressure behind the eyes, sudden skin pains and burning sensations, along with bouts of nausea. Over the weekend, away from the classroom, I felt completely normal. Investigators for a medical journal have attempted to test for general ill-health associated with wireless. They said that their test subjects, who complained of acute sensitivity to microwaves, were unable to tell whether the wireless was actually switched on or not. If Bevington's symptoms can be replicated and shown to be definitely wireless related, this could be the breakthrough which researchers have been seeking - without results - for years. All other clinical trials so far have found "no link" between ill health and wireless. There is a theoretical link between DNA damage and microwave, the reality of which is still unproven despite considerable research. Nobody has suggested that DNA damage could produce symptoms such as those reported by Bevington, however. Copyright © Newswireless.net