In a new report from the California HealthCare Foundation, the report’s author, health economist and consultant Jane Sarasohn-Kahn concludes that while the increasing amount of consumer wellness and fitness data collected today has a lot of value for personalized healthcare, it also presents new risks for consumer privacy.
For one thing, as healthcare moves out of the hospital and onto the wrist, the smartphone, or the Facebook wall, healthcare data moves out of the realm of HIPAA, the law designed to protect patients’ healthcare data. HIPAA can’t protect things like your Fitbit steps, what health search terms you enter into Google, or where you check in on FourSquare.
As Deloitte’s Harry Greenspun puts it in the CHCF report, “It’s one thing to know you’re on a statin. It’s another thing to know that you eat fast food three times a week. What is more predictive?”
HIPAA also doesn’t govern “health scores”, algorithm-generated numbers used by insurers that are similar to credit scores for health. These scores are built entirely from data that rests outside the purview of HIPAA.
“Digital dust can have health implications, even if the actual ‘dust’ is devoid of health information,” Deven McGraw of Mannatt, Phelps and Phillips tells Sarasohn-Kahn in the report. “[The FICO Medication Adherence Score] and other ‘scores’ could have significant implications for consumers — arguably as significant as a score generated using health data.” Keep reading>>