FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Is Heal ID a governmentally issued “Virus Immunity Card”?
No – although we provide the same capabilities, and much more! Heal ID is neither governmentally issued nor a personal ID. The media and governments have been talking about such a governmental “Immunity ID.” That would be an old-style and centralized solution with higher risks and fewer benefits. Heal ID only checks whether a person, whose identity is anonymized, has situation-dependent “functionally and statistically sufficient immunity”, or not, in the eyes of the scanner: For my specific context and situation, it lets me decide whether the other person has a sufficiently high Antibody count to make it statistically likely enough that they are safe to be around me, my office, my store, my lecture hall, my church, my event), and provides proof without having to reveal who the person is. In other words, when stores, offices, or restaurants check whether you are safe to be around, or require special protection (e.g. via social distancing), they only need to know a yes/no answer to make a justifiable follow-up decision. They need to know whether this information is correct, but have no need to know who you are, where you have been, or who you have been with.
What is the difference to tracing apps like those from Apple/Google, or Singapore?
Tracing apps support medical treatment, Heal ID supports getting back to work and back to life! Although there are some overlapping capabilities, Heal ID is for letting businesses and people verify whether somebody is clear to enter a building or work or meet with somebody else. Tracing apps are to help track potential infection touchpoints, and therefore support the treatment of Covid-19 virus-carriers and all they come in touch with. This is very intrusive in principle. Tracing apps check against centralized databases. Most of such solutions are country-specific, while Heal ID is borderless. Unlike such solutions, Heal ID is global and does not store location-specific data and does not follow the user. It’s purpose is to let others check the status, with their consent, not let others (potentially intrusively) follow a person’s activities.
How can businesses, or other people, find out and decide on how safe you are to be around if they do not know who you are?
The person checking only needs to know whether your test results document a high enough statistical probability (from the scanner’s/checker’s perspective) so that can judge you as being safe to be around. For them, this means “clear”. “Clear” is therefore in the eye of the beholder – but based on verifiable test results. More data shared, even anonymously, and put into the specific context they are acted on, therefore results in better decision-making.
At the discretion of the person or organization checking, such checks can have at least three levels. Each reduces the likelihood of fraud and increases the reliability of the result.
1. The person checking scans in your barcode (which is an encrypted version of my unique account ID) and then validates your status by pulling a yes/no answer for this code. If the check comes back with the same answer that your app shows, the checker knows that the record exists and has not been tampered with. This process can be automated. It also considers which test was performed, the reliability of the test, and whether the tester was certified and by whom.
2. As often is the case when entering private properties (including office buildings), more checks can be conducted. I.e., both your screen and the checker’s screen shows a portion of your ID and your birth year (comparable to the common question “last four digits of your social security number”). This ensures that one is not dealing with a screen print or made-up ID.
3. If further validation is required, a simple visual check can compare whether the last several digits of the ID and the birth year are the same as shown on the ID you carry. This way, and without accessing a centralized database, or storing my ID information, the correctness of the “Clear Yes/No” question can be ensured (again: the determination of the status “clear” is not absolute, but depends on the context). Such a third-level check is comparable to checking ID when selling alcohol or using a credit card.
Alternative or additional fraud protection mechanisms can be implemented, and also automated.
What is the advantage of a decentralized global solution, as opposed to one centered on a political entity (i.e. country or state)?
A global solution is superior for two reasons. First, like the virus, we humans do cross borders. The Covid-19 virus turned into a global pandemic because of that. Unless we all continue to isolate ourselves, we will continue to offer viruses hosts to jump to. Therefore, for solutions to really be effective they need to be able to check against a global database (BUT: see next paragraph – a decentralized global database!). The alternative would be a complex need for building interfaces, agree on standards, access control mechanisms, administrator accounts, data backups, and data access mechanisms. And even if that would work across almost 200 nations, there would be the following point two.
Second, if political entities have control, they gain potentially intrusive powers that can be misused. This is why a decentralized global solution (like Heal ID) prevents total control. Of course, many governments have the powers, and will use them, to ADD to global solutions, and strive for additional capabilities. They may still introduce like tracing and realtime tracking and surveillance.
It is important to note that the answer to this question would be different if a central entity would control the data. In that case, a global solution would not be preferable. With Heal ID, though, the data is always stored in a decentralized manner, secured by the consensus mechanism of a major blockchain.
How many people are already safe to be around, or “functionally immune”? How can we know?
The short response is that we don’t know the answer to this question. But, already today, millions have been tested, and a large portion of these tests have shown previous infection. Although the quality of tests vary, and in general are improving, many of those tested can be considered “clear” in many if not most circumstances (we shy away from the term “immune” becasue it usually conveys a notion of the absolute – which never exists). Many experts assume that probably tens of millions more have been infected without noticeable symptoms. This number is continuing to increase because social distancing only slows infection rates but does not totally stop the virus.
Why do we need Heal ID, instead of simply waiting until social distancing has worked and the virus is defeated?
Although many if not most countries show a slowing of the virus’s spread, the aggressive level of social distancing required is (a) not sufficient to stop the spread altogether, and (b) is economically and socially unsustainable.
A vaccine will probably not be available for at least one more year. In the meantime, the loosening of social distancing rules can cause a potentially even stronger secondary wave of infections. Therefore, we need tools to make sure that we can reduce economic and social costs and get back to work and back to life.
Do we need the Heal ID App after governments have started to lift social distancing and isolation rules and orders?
Yes! It then will become even more important than ever. Businesses and organizations of all kinds need to make sure that they don’t re-introduce infections to their customers, employees, or members.
Do users need to wait to be tested before they can use the app?
We are planning to add some functionality to inform others around us about one’s risk status. For this use, the Heal ID app is useful even without tests. However, for the core benefit that Heal ID offer, we require either test results or vaccinations to be conducted. Such test capabilities are added very fast, and the wait should not be too long – and definitely shorter than the 12 to 18 months that most infectious disease experts predict it will take to develop a vaccine for the masses.
Are enough tests available?
As of the middle of April, the general public still had no easy access to test kits. That is rapidly changing. So far already more than 30 different test kits have been developed. An increasing number of them are being approved by governments. In general, government restrictions on the processes for using them are likely going to be loosened. Furthermore, an increasing number of non-profits and businesses are willing to buy tests so that their workers and customers can get back to a normal life.
Is Heal ID a private or public initiative?
Heal ID is a private company, incorporated in the State of Delaware (USA), offering a service to the general public in all nations. We offer the conduit, the pipeline, that connects individual people, businesses, and labs.
Who owns my data? Does Heal ID own it?
You own your data. When using Heal ID, all data is either anonymized and not stored in a way that Heal ID can access, or anonymized and explicitly stored for public use by other people, researchers, or governments. We call this latter process heal one another.
Why do you say Heal ID is decentralized? What does it mean for real life?
We say so mainly for two reasons.
First, the Heal ID data is not stored on a central server. Not a single entity has control over the data. The most important indicators are stored in an anonymized form on a public Blockchain (EOS). For a number of reasons, our roadmap shows us adding more chains and therefore failover and performance capabilities. No single entity controls the data stored by Heal ID.
Second, Heal ID operates as a self-governed organic network. We do not centrally control who uses it. We do not pick test providers, certifying agencies, businesses, or individuals. Rather, we provide the conduit, the pipeline, as a platform and means to connect any test provider with any certifier and any user. We only specify the kind of data that can be stored, and provide the most effective access to it. As a result, users can determine themselves which tests to use, which certifier to trust. Heal ID enables everybody to adhere to political, medical, or regulatory guidance, without limiting your use of any data that may be helpful to battling the disease, lowering risk, and improving health of communities.
What do you mean with “borderless” and “global”?
We are global because we are focused on “humans” vs. “citizens”. Our underlying infrastructure is not bound by geography or political systems, or legal entities. We do not own the infrastructure nor the data. We do provide the conduit, or pipeline, and the mechanism for humanity’s virus-fighting and infectious disease battling capabilities.
Who pays for testing?
It depends. Please check with your health insurance or government whether they cover the costs of testing. If you have Covid-19 symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a lab for testing, paid for by your insurance or the government. As the availability of tests keeps spreading to the general public, businesses, non-profits, and individuals have expressed interest in funding tests. Everybody is better off if more people have previously been infected and are most likely no longer a viable host for the virus – particularly if they can know this about the other person.
How do you ensure privacy?
We do not collect and store IDs or names or emails for our personal users. Heal ID only uses the last digits of your ID and your birth year, and only they will be visible. Although this does not guarantee totally anonymity, it gets close to it. Furthermore, we can enhance privacy through the use of additional anonymization capabilities, or of self-sovereign identities (SSIs).
What does Heal ID mean with risk levels?
Depending on the context, social and work interactions have different levels of risk:
(a) A handful of friends wanting to shoot hoops may trust each other and therefore not require fraud-proof levels of verifications. Although they don’t live together, they may have a high tolerance for risk, threshold, and status check conventions because they know each other well.
(b) Young workers at a supermarket may be more cautious but still see their risk as acceptable considering their own risk profile (i.e. age strongly correlates with risk of severe symptoms and death) and the typical mix of customers and co-workers they interact with.
(c) When visiting a hospital or nursing home, a person may create more risk for patients and the people she is likely going to encounter there.
Does Heal ID’s have a functional road map?
Yes, we do have an ambitious plan to enhance Heal ID’s capabilities. Among them are small but powerful features related to certification, automation, integration, and analysis, our solution is designed to support vaccinations, the fighting of other infectious diseases, and much more.
What does “certification” of test providers mean?
It means that “somebody” has documented that they consider a certain test, lab, test process, and result as reliable. This somebody can be a governmental agency, an authority from the medical community, or a specialized certification organization, theoretically even an individual. The person or organization checking up on the test results can then freely decide which certifying organization they trust to best address their validation requirements. E.g., an office may apply local certification rules in line with city orders (and corresponding certification), while a hospital in that same city may only accept more strict certifications by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). Different countries may rely on distinct certifying agencies. All this happens organically, at the discretion of the users, and with unchangeable certification records stored on the blockchain.
Do you use a “gold standard” for tests?
We do not make that call. We provide access to the data and let people verify themselves. Each company, person, or group of people can set their own standards. This is very important to us, because we serve a global community and because humanity’s fight against infectious diseases deals with an adaptable enemy. Like the virus, and like the circumstances specific to each community, “standards” need to be adaptable also, over time and across geographical areas and human communities.
Do you work with all test kit providers?
Yes. We are test kit provider agnostic. What drives us is that the tests performed, and their results, are documented, and ideally also the circumstances during which they were conducted. This does not mean an endorsement, but it makes critical information available to the general public and businesses. Our focus is to ensure that everybody who wants to validate somebody else’ Antibody / infection /risk status has access to all information required for THEM to make that call. We do not introduce limitations or centralized controls. This ensures adaptability in the battle against viruses and infectious diseases.
How can we trust that the data is correct?
For all practical purposes, data stored on the blockchain cannot be changed, and even in theoretical circumstances where it would happen it will leave a clear trace. We use the EOS blockchain but plan to add additional blockchains to further strengthen this aspect. No single entity controls blockchains.
As far as errors in data collection, no documented entries are ever deleted. This establishes a clear audit trail, and empowers the users (e.g. businesses) to trust only data provided by what they consider the most appropriate, or “best” (a) test kits, (b) testers, and (c) certifying entities. The unchangeable (“immutable”) nature of a blockchain-based database establishes accountability.
Medical & Health
What does Heal ID mean with terms like “safe to be around”, “clear” and “functionally and statistically sufficient”?
We do not define these terms absolutely. They are determined by the evaluation of data like risk factors and test results in a specific context (e.g., controlled offices or shop floors, restaurant, stores, hospitals, nursing homes). E.g., at the entry to an office or hospital, a scan comparing (anonymized) test results to my own threshold standards lets me decide whether the scanned person is unlikely to be infected and shows a sufficiently high Antibody count to make it statistically likely enough that they are safe to be around me, my office, my store, my lecture hall, my church, or my event.
In many ways, this is similar to trusting the effect of a vaccination – just with lower statistical probabilities. Heal ID empowers you to define your own acceptable level of “threshold” and “sufficient”. E.g., an organization can require more strict conditions for the IgG values they accept for a person to be considered “clear”, even for specific test providers (“labs”) or test kit providers, and independent of how labs themselves interpret their own results.
What happens when a vaccine has been developed?
Heal ID supports the proof of vaccination in a similar form as the proof of Antibody tests. A vaccination is similar to an organically propagated infection. The main difference is that it can be performed in a controlled and secure manner. Once a Covid-19 vaccine has been developed and is being used, we can add vaccination records – as further (and ultimate) proof of functional “immunity”. Such “immunity” still is not absolute for every person, but statistically close enough for most practical circumstances. Once vaccinated, it will bump up your Covid-19 status to the highest level.
What is “herd immunity” and what does it have to do with Heal ID and Covid-19?
Herd immunity means that in a group of humans that interact with each other enough people are no longer viable hosts for the virus (usually determined by sufficient levels of Antibodies), so that the virus is probabilistically unlikely to continue finding a sufficient number of hosts to keep spreading. E.g., if the propagation factor R were 2.4, herd immunity would be reached if about 60% of a group of people would be immune (= have a sufficiently high number of Antibodies). Even with the other about 40% not having reached that threshold, the virus would eventually cease to spread.
What happens if the virus mutates?
It depends. If the virus mutates, this could worsen its propagation rate (make spreading easier or even stop it). It also could mean the opposite or that previously functionally “immune” people no longer have such protection. This is no strong argument against testing or against the use of test results. Rather, it is similar to what happens during common flu season, and the corresponding flu vaccination. If the flu mutates, all bets are off.
Why would I use sub-standard tests, or rely on such tests used by other people?
Sometimes what experts may call “sub-standard” may be the only option we have available. Then, the perfect can become the enemy of the good. We are still shooting at a moving target. Any test is better than none. Even today, doctors in clinics and hospitals are making life-and-death decisions based on tests that are not perfect. And so can we all, when using Heal ID in the bigger picture. Adding additional test information never takes anything away. We can determine which information we trust most, and change our process. But, all tests increase the data volume available to make personal and business decisions, or research, triggering a virtuous cycle.
Is Heal ID dependent on a single Blockchain? How is that secure?
We use one major blockchain (EOS) but are considering additional security and reliability options – which is a core expertise of our founders. Major blockchain can be considered at least as secure as any centralized database. All centralized systems are eventually get hacked. Some Blockchains never have been, and even if that happened it would leave a trace. For that reason, Blockchains often are called “truth machines.” They operate based on decentralized consensus rather than administrator accounts that give total access to edit and change. – We keep watching the space and technologies, ready to react and create failover and additional security capabilities.
What data is stored in a publicly accessible manner?
Only data that you explicitly authorized is stored in a way that it can be accessed by others. We are mindful of HIPAA and GDPR, and follow corresponding laws and rules.
What does your technology roadmap look like?
We are going to release the iOS version the week after Easter 2020. The week after, we will release the Android version, and two weeks later a tablet version for the Heal ID Labs App (HLA). Then we will add other devices, solutions for businesses, and technical capabilities.
Do you support both iOS and Android platforms?
Yes, both will be released in mid-April, fully functional.
Is Heal ID HIPAA and GDPR compliant?
How can I get involved as an individual or a non-profit, to promote testing and actively fight the virus and increase health?
1. Sign up to become a Heal ID Ambassador.
2. Work with us to learn the ins and outs of the solution.
3. Promote the benefits of Heal ID for your local or national community.
I am a business owner and would like to get my employees and customers back to work and back to life. What do I need to do?
Let us know on our web site. You can be up and running with three simple steps:
1. Sign up to tell us that you would like to work with Heal ID.
2. Download the app, and encourage your customers and employees to do the same and get tested.
3. Use Heal ID and let all cleared employees and customers interact without virus-triggered limitations!
And there you are Back to Work!
How can researchers and academics work with Heal ID?
We are developing an API that researchers and academics can link into. Sign up on our web site. We will contact you.
Are you aligning your work with public policy?
Yes, we try to generate awareness on the large number of benefits of using the decentralized, secure, private, and global Heal ID solution over centralized, limited, and intrusive alternatives. Please help us!
How do businesses save money when paying to have their employees tested?
Right now, in April 2020, we have a vicious cycle in which many or most companies lose revenue because they cannot conduct business. We help turning that around. E.g., a shared office provider may normally have had 200 individuals working in their building. If they verify for just 10 or 20 of these people that test results show (or strongly suggest) they have enough Antibodies to be considered “clear”, and growing that number from there, they could start making money again versus none at all.