The Critical Importance of Owning Your Medical Data
Nathan E Botts

The Critical Importance of Owning Your Medical Data

Securing Personal Health

The Growing Concern of Medical Data Breaches

In an age where data breaches are increasingly common, the security of medical data has become a paramount concern. A recent article on Wired, titled "Your Medical Data Is Code Blue," delves into the alarming frequency of medical data breaches and the profound implications they have for individuals. This situation underscores the vital importance of individuals owning and controlling their health information to dictate legitimate use and safeguard their privacy.

The article highlights several instances where medical data companies failed to protect sensitive patient information. From transcription services to medical imaging firms, the breaches have exposed everything from personal identifiers to detailed medical histories. The author, Steven Levy, personally experienced such a breach, receiving notifications from multiple healthcare providers about unauthorized access to his medical data.

The Risks of Medical Data Exposure

The theft of medical information is not just a privacy issue but can lead to a range of harms:

  • Targeted Medical Fraud: Individuals can be targeted based on their health vulnerabilities, leading to medical fraud.
  • Exploitation by Third Parties: The data can be invaluable to drug marketers, insurance companies, and manufacturers of medical devices.
  • Irreversible Exposure: Unlike financial data, which can be secured by changing account numbers or cards, medical history is permanent and cannot be altered.

The Inadequacy of Current Protections

Despite laws like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) designed to protect medical data, breaches continue to occur at an alarming rate. The article points out that the penalties for such breaches are often minimal compared to the potential damage caused, suggesting a need for more stringent enforcement and higher standards of data protection.

The Case for Patient Ownership of Medical Data

Given these risks, it's crucial that individuals have more control over their medical data. This includes:

  • Right to Access and Review: Patients should have easy access to their medical records and the ability to review them for accuracy.
  • Informed Consent for Data Sharing: Patients should have a clear understanding of who has access to their data and for what purpose.
  • Notification of Breaches: Immediate notification of any data breaches that may affect their information.

Moving Forward: A Community Approach to Data Security

The article suggests a community approach to data security, where patient representatives are involved in setting up the security infrastructure. This approach could ensure that the systems designed to protect medical data align with the needs and concerns of the patients themselves.

Conclusion

The Wired article serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities in our current medical data security systems. It's a call to action for stronger laws, better enforcement, and a shift towards patient ownership of medical data. As we navigate an increasingly digital healthcare landscape, ensuring the security and privacy of medical data must be a top priority.

Previous Article How to: Use TextSecure
Print
687 Rate this article:
No rating
0Upvote 0Downvote
Please login or register to post comments.
All information, thought, and references provided on Health eConsultation is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Health eConsutlation currently makes no attempt at HIPAA privacy compliance. Any trade names used are information and details given for the convenience of users and do not constitute an endorsement from Health eConsultation.
Use this site at your own risk, and do not use the information to make medical or legal decisions without first seeking guidance from a medical or legal professional.
Plain and simple, ads are used to help pay for the cost of the server and resources required to serve Health eConsultation members and provide an objective resource of health information and health education. Subscribers of Health eConsultation can access the site without having to view ads.
OUR SERVICES
We are passionate about the therapeutic benefits that can be derived from appropriately applied health education .
More informed patients are healthier and less costly to provide care to.
We seek to give consumers and patients a voice, because in the end we are them.
Evidence based practices is what nurtures a thriving health system.

HEALTH IT EDUCATION - KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

 
WHO WE ARE
Health eConsultation members believe that health improvement is about patient knowledge, motivation and opportunity to act in concert with healthcare professionals to improve their condition.
OUR PURPOSE
Our primary purpose is to build a community around unbiased Health IT education so that people are able to focus on the information they need without having to navigate the vast amount of information that is available on the web.
LEVERAGE VS BUILD
Health eConsultation seeks to leverage responsible, engaging and, hopefully, motivating education, and information resources. The idea is not to scrape the content of other sites, but to investigate, synthesize, and report in order to create an evidence-base founded on increased rigor and research.
RESOURCES & REFERENCES
Health eConsultation educational material and website information are provided primarily through free resources, although some sites mentioned might require further registration and payment for particular membership or services.
DISCLAIMER
All information, thought, and references provided on Health eConsultation is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Health eConsutlation currently makes no attempt at HIPAA privacy compliance. Use this site at your own risk, and do not use the information to make medical decisions without first seeking guidance from a medical professonal.
CUSTOMIZED LEARNING
By registering with Health eConsultation you can participate in comments, ratings, and bookmarking. You can also keep track of the time that you spend learning about certain topics for your own records or to share whith health professionals you are working with.