The alliance brings PositiveID one step closer to its dream of having as many Americans as possible volunteer to have a microchip surgically implanted under their skin that will link to an online database containing their medical records. BNET has previously noted that PositiveID also owns a credit monitoring and identity-theft prevention company, Steel Vault, and that it envisions its chips being linked to Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT) and employers. PositiveID explicitly linked Steel Vault to Health Link in its most recent 10-Q form with the SEC:
Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2009, with the acquisition of Steel Vault, the Company intends to pursue its strategy to offer identification tools and technologies for consumers and businesses, including healthcare identification products, initially focused on the Health Link personal health record and the identification security products currently offered by NationalCreditReport.com.The PositiveID/Avocare alliance will doubtless be painted by critics as a sinister development in which Americans' medical privacy will end up becoming the online plaything of PositiveID, and that life in the U.S. will become difficult for those who do not want a chip inside them (in much the same way as it is currently difficult for anyone without a credit card, cellphone, email address or internet access).
Here are the details of the pact, per the PositiveID Statement:
PositiveID and Avocare will also work together to advance the interoperability of Health Link with the Electronic Medical Record systems utilized in the RHIOs throughout the State of Florida, thereby integrating Health Link with medical facilities and healthcare providers serving over one million patients.Avocare's main business is building "Physicians Portal" web sites on which doctors and hospitals can access patient health records. These web sites are sold through to various regional healthcare providers, reimbursers and insurers. One example is the Central Florida Regional Health Information Organization, which would connect to the PositiveID/Avocare alliance's services. Its members include Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare -- all the major players, in other words.
Within that network, Avocare envisions a single access point with one login for doctors. According to a diagram in an Avocare white paper, that online system is connected to "State Medicaid," "Immunization Records," "Rx Claims" and "Others."
A key point for privacy advocates is that patients have the ability to opt out, according to page 9 of the presentation. That, however, raises the question of how long medical providers and reimbursers would tolerate patients who chose the opt-out option.
How many people are currently implanted with a Health Link chip? That is not known. However, revenues at PositiveID leaped from $41 million to $161 million through the first nine months of this year.
* This item has been corrected to make it clear that PositiveID denies its Health Link service includes microchipping employees. While the two products were once offered together, the company no longer markets them that way, PositiveID says.
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