Your Health Data Isn’t as Safe as You Think

Here’s a blurb:

HIPAA became law back in 1996. Google hadn’t yet been founded. Neither had Facebook Inc. Amazon. com Inc. was in its infancy. Apple Inc. was on the brink of extinction. All are now tech giants with ambitions of their own in the health-care space. And, as competitors, secrecy tends to be their default mode.

While there’s potential for some of the world’s best engineering minds and the most powerful algorithms to improve care and lower costs, there’s also the risk of negative consequences for patients, who could see the entry of technology firms affect their insurance or be targeted with ads related to their health conditions. The regulations in place now to protect the interests of patients aren’t set up for what’s already happening, or for what’s coming, say experts.

The high costs of healthcare in the US are because of perverse incentives and medical malpractice insurance coverage. People should realise that hospitals have become transactional zones now. You access healthcare in a place where you either get the cheapest option or where patients believe that they will have the best outcomes. Of course, demand is also influenced by insurance coverage.

Here’s something more important:

Apple, for instance created an encrypted connection that allows health providers to transmit health information at a patient’s request to an iPhone. The company says it doesn’t receive or have access to the records, and that it hasn’t signed any business associate agreements.

So how do they make money? They will possibly change the privacy policy because well, they can.

Algorithms trained on the data have been able to predict things like which patients are likely to die within three to 12 months, so providers can better time discussions of palliative care. Doctors can also use data to compare one patient to a pool of similar patients. If a patient’s blood work shows some elevated levels, a doctor can compare it to a larger population and determine whether it’s worth increasing checkups and checking for cancer.

There’s no proof that routine blood work can “predict” cancer unless the journalist is still drunk on Theranos “kool-aid”.

It is a natural progression for the corporations to evince interest in the healthcare data records because it is the most valuable information related to the individual. It is also a sad reflection of the state of government-funded healthcare because these initiatives should come from them as custodians of our identities.

 

via Your Health Data Isn’t as Safe as You Think – WSJ