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High court grants Medtech preservation order against Valentia
Thu, 11th Jan 2024

Medtech has secured a preservation order against Valentia Technologies, granted by the NZ High Court. The order permits investigations into allegations of copyright infringement, data violations, and potential threats to patient safety in the healthcare sector. Valentia Technologies is mandated to preserve all source code, databases, and content tied to the software utilised for patient medical records management and extraction.

Both Medtech and Valentia design software called Patient Management Systems (PMS) for managing patient information held by healthcare establishments. The systems, including Indici by Valentia, store data such as diagnosis, vaccination details, medication, allergies, lab results, and clinical notes documented during patient consultations. The order dictates that Valentia maintain a 'snapshot' of its software, enabling inspection of Indici's code and database structure for possible infringement of Medtech's intellectual property.

The controversy hinges on Valentia's software utility called SEHR (Shared Electronic Health Record). SEHR, authorised by some Primary Health Organisations and District Health Boards, selects data from patient records in PMS and feeds it to a central database, ensuring cross-practice patient care. This data is accessed by medical centres, general practices, paramedics, emergency departments, and other healthcare units. Medtech alleges Valentia's SEHR Hook operates against the law.

Medtech accuses Valentia of exceeding its authority in data extraction and exploiting the SEHR Hook for excess data. Such data handling potentially increases the privacy risks to patient data during a data incident. Moreover, Medtech asserts that Valentia, through the SEHR Hook, accesses information in the Medtech-owned PMS that is confidential or copyright-protected. By acquiring more information than necessary, Valentia allegedly duplicates Medtech's data sets, database structures, codes, and other proprietary material.

Additionally, Medtech worries about the incorrect transfer of data records by Valentia, posing risks to patient safety, particularly concerning historical medication and allergy records. This litigation is not Medtech's first court action against Valentia - a similar preservation order was granted in 2018.

An independent probe by PwC substantiates Medtech's concerns about Valentia's operations. These include extracting excessive data for SEHR's central database, using Medtech's ETL 'extract, transform and load' code infringing third-party intellectual property rights, and mistakenly transferring proprietary medication codes of Medtech, leading to incorrect drug references in the transferred data—potentially endangering patients.

The High Court upheld the preservation order, acknowledging evidence suggesting that Valentia failed to adhere to public statements about addressing known product issues. There are prima facie proofs of breaches of Medtech’s intellectual property and settlement undertakings given by Valentia in 2018. It was noted that PwC, as an independent expert, has validated Medtech’s concerns.

Given the question marks over Valentia’s conduct and doubts regarding the data's whereabouts, there's concern regarding potential software alteration or deletion. Medtech reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that patient data is collected, stored, managed, transferred, and employed safely and correctly and insists its intellectual property rights, as well as those of third parties involved in managing patient data, are respected.