First, I am still learning about HOPR. Second, I may not use exact language since I am a relative layperson in tech.
As I learned about HOPR and its ability to shield metadata, I immediately thought of the issue of medical records. There is a lot of metadata surrounding medical records–and especially their sharing–that HOPR can be instrumental in addressing.
The size of a medical record (usually shared as a PDF) alone can tell an outside observer some information about how many visits a patient has had at a given medical site. If there are any images (such as X-rays, enteroscopy, CT scans), that would also be evident as the file size would be much larger. HOPR’s ability to split a PDF or other file types into smaller packets and scramble them would hide the size of a patient’s medical record.
The types of locations that have medical records on a patient can tell an outside observer information about a patient. If a certain clinic or hospital only does one type of procedure or has one speciality, a PDF or other files sent from that site will reveal information such as “This patient has had plastic surgery” or “This patient has had a procedure related to cancer” and the like. HOPR’s ability to hide the sender is directly applicable here.
The recipient of the medical records is metadata that an observer can use to learn about a patient’s medical state and, sometimes, legal state. For example, is an ER sending records to a psychiatric hospital and to a county’s social services and to an attorney? Then, that metadata will tell a knowledgeable observer that the person is possibly undergoing the commitment process. HOPR can use it’s ability to mask recipient and sender to confound an observer who wants to get metadata on a patient.
Repeated sendings to/from a hospital/clinic can give metadata just due to that pattern. Is a state nursing board sending and receiving data to a specific doctor every year? An observer might realize that the nurse is under special monitoring. That might lead the observer to try to get more metadata about that nurse. HOPR again can help here.
Many clinics and hospitals use faxes, e-mailed PDFs, and DropBox-style ways of sharing records. If HOPR was able to interface with one or more of these and tout their privacy to such agencies, it would be helpful to the patient and be a source of income for HOPR. Many large agencies would have no problem absorbing a small cost per file-sharing to be able to say that they have increased security. The number of records sent and received involving hospitals and clinics must number in the tens of millions of events per year, if not more. This could be a huge area for income and a great way to show people HOPR’s core benefits. Patients might even begin to demand it of their clinic or hospital, over time.
Thank you for this thoughtful proposal @InnominateMD. Indeed one of our existing partnerships tries to go in exactly that direction, albeit more on the infrastructure side and less customer-facing. You can find a short video explainer here.
Metadata privacy in general is a huge issue in the medical domain. Just finding out that I am exchanging data with a certain health professional will reveal the most important - and highly confidential - insights into my health state.
We are thinking along the same lines @InnominateMD , my proposal is here
The problem that I think could be greatly solved by a med app using hopr is not just a metadata solution but a solution of ease of access to private transmission between different encrypted systems. The metadata problem is definitely an issue of privacy but I would see it secondary as a solution the market would adopt using hopr for. I believe the problem that hopr could solve that would be easily accessible and understood between the medical community is ease of transmission between the different systems these different practices use while maintaining even higher encryption and solving the meta data issue. In other words I think a sellable solution that hopr provides would primarily be ease of transmission using an app between offices and the secondary solution that makes it even better is that meta data is protected. Love that we were thinking on the same lines.
Very good proposal and something which the HOPR protocol can be used for certainly. The difficulty is that one would need to collaborate with lots of parties, since interconnecting them is of the essence here. But that shouldn’t be a blocker, the value gained for users would be immense.
Like I said in the Hopr Med App proposal (Hopr Med App - #7 by Emmerson_Biggins), two medical systems sharing data (using industry standard methods of data interfacing) should not put patient data at risk. It merely shows that two medical systems are communicating with each other. The patient data is not contained in the metadata, it is encrypted within the message payload.
There is absolutely a place for HOPR in medtech but I would focus more on something like a medical IoT device being used in a patient’s home for example or maybe a patient portal where patients can view their own medical history over the internet. If you ever see a medical office trying to share a patient’s medical history via dropbox, you should run out the door…and maybe to a lawyer’s office.