How Could Blockchain Prevent the John Podesta Digital Health Hack?

WikiLeaks has provided an astounding amount of insight into the behind the scenes workings of a Presidential campaign. While much of the public and press focus has been on the political ramifications of Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Chairman, John Podesta’s emails, the leaks also demonstrate significant Personal Health Information, and Digital Health data from a Withings wearable was disclosed. The appearance of personal health information in the hacked emails demonstrates a need for additional security, privacy, and portability through a patient — doctor Clinical Blockchain Messaging Platform. Interestingly, while reviewing the health related emails from WikiLeaks on October 29, 2016, I may have inadvertently modified a blood pressure setting on John Podesta’s Withings Health Activity Tracker, Sorry John. (see below) If this is in fact the case, it would strongly suggest that wearables companies should move quickly to provide summarized health activity and patient data on a Blockchain designed for healthcare data.

A May 18, 2015 email thread between Podesta and his Washington DC doctor is a discussion about certain side effects (itchy ankles, etc) related to a blood pressure medication prescription for Podesta. It is also clear that Podesta is meticulously tracking his blood pressure readings from his Withings wearable. It is clear also that this patient — doctor communication has not been archived anywhere in a patient chart, electronic medical record, or patient portal. There was no automatic messaging from Podesta’s Withings wearable to Dr. Stearns, instead the data was merely transcribed in an email.

A Clinical Blockchain incorporates patient — doctor messaging, and would insure that this information is not lost among thousands of other emails or health data which may be important for other physicians caring for a patient. In fact, the WikiLeaks disclosure clearly demonstrates that Podesta is in fact seeing multiple physicians for his condition. A February 2016 email identifies a Dr Iadarola in addition to Dr Stearn.

Podesta chose to utilize the Withings Health Activity Tracker over Fitbit, even though, his sister, Heather Podesta was a lobbyist for Fitbit prior to its IPO. It seems Heather’s lobbying focuses on patient safety and privacy. Withings provided Podesta with a weekly health summary which was captured as part of the WikiLeaks hack.

The fact that Podesta utilizes a wearable health activity tracker to monitor his hypertension is commendable. It is also important to note that the Withings wearable information was communicated to his physician in an email, which reinforces the need to incorporate a Blockchain to capture this health related conversation. The weekly Withings email summary report provides averages for activity tracking, such as “steps,” motivational quotes, and an option to display arterial blood pressure.

Withings has received various awards for its watch-styled health tracker designs and status app as recently as October 2016. One of the emails included a curious URL embedded as part of the Weekly Report. I decided to cut and paste the URL, and something unexpected happened.


The URL below allowed me access to what appeared to be settings on the Withings account for John Podesta. By cutting and pasting the URL, it appears that I was able to change the settings of Podesta’s wearable device and cause arterial pressure to be displayed.

After clicking on the URL, the following screen appeared which was a bit of a surprise.

Naturally I was feeling a little curious about what would happen if I decided to display arterial pressure, and of course I pressed the Submit .

Honestly this was a “Holy Shit” moment for me. The screen sequence appears to indicate that I just updated John Podest’s Withings wearable to display arterial pressure on the next weekly report. I know that this type of activity is not possible if I tried to access a Cerner or Epic Patient Portal from multiple computers. I was not sure if Withings captured IP addresses, and certainly didn’t want to be accused of violating with Podesta’s Withings device. Upon realizing that there were no black helicopters circling overhead, I once again focused on the many ways that Blockchain technology could significantly improve Podesta’s discussion with his doctors and streamlined integration with his wearable device.