Healthcare Initiatives – Beware of Skype

I know several healthcare initiatives are using Skype to support remote care, at least in Spain.

I would like to reflect two things about using Skype in those cases:

1) The laws that cover patient data. The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), a law passed in 1997 to protect patient data is our current framework. This is going to sound more like a rant, but while it is outdated and does not help innovation initiatives in the healthcare field, is the main law frame in which to work on, so it’s important we learn how to innovate within it, until modified or we are given a new frame to work on. An initiative like Skype does not meet even half of the regulations required by the HIPAA. You can read more about this topic in this presentation I made for my nursing students at UB (unfortunately is in Spanish so if you are interested in a copy in English please contact me): PPT blog HIPAA

2) My personal suggestion is to, under any circumstances, use Skype chat. A week ago was discovered thanks to H’s associates in Germany that Microsoft reads Skype chats.

“A reader informed heise Security that he had observed some unusual network traffic following a Skype instant messaging conversation. The server indicated a potential replay attack. It turned out that an IP address which traced back to Microsoft had accessed the HTTPS URLs previously transmitted over Skype. Heise Security then reproduced the events by sending two test HTTPS URLs, one containing login information and one pointing to a private cloud-based file-sharing service. A few hours after their Skype messages (…) They too had received visits to each of the HTTPS URLs transmitted over Skype from an IP address registered to Microsoft in Redmond.”
For more information on the news:

Skype is free which means that suits low-budget studies; as services that are HIPAA compliant are much more expensive. I want to leave also a link to VSee, a great initiative and depending on your needs, for free.


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