Big tech and privacy concerns

Medical Tech Clashes With User Privacy

As the medical tech field booms and flourishes during this time, there’s consequences being raised by digital privacy advocates about how far our medical life is now digitized. I spoke with Bill Richardson, cyber security partner with Assured SPC, regarding how front-end consumers and patients can protect their healthcare data.

The pandemic, the potential impact of others knowing that one is covid-positive, covid-negative or has been vaccinated has heightened individual and group awareness to health information privacy. While there is a desire for privacy for personal healthcare information it is only legally protected when health information is specifically covered by laws such as HIPAA. Federal law only addresses data shared between Covered Entities (like hospitals, doctors’ medical records and records shared with health insurance companies) and Business Associates which are typically subcontractors to CEs.

But the general public holds an underlying belief that protection of health information is a personal right. Because there is little law around this today, it is up to the individual to protect their digital health information. People can do this by taking practical steps. The simplest steps include protecting your personal health information like it is a credit card number. Minimize sharing with others, question how others will protect your digital health information if it must be shared, keep personal digital health records encrypted on personal devices, and password encrypt it if it must be shared over email or text messages.

Physicians and patients prefer virtual healthcare. Over 80% of all patients were happy with their telehealth visit based on a 2021 survey by the C9 Healthcare Coalition. A new survey by Mayo Clinic found that 75% of doctors felt that distant healthcare enabled them to perform their job just as well as in person. Medical tech businesses are prospering, creating jobs, opportunities, pleasing investors, and making patient health easier.

However, is the sacrifice of privacy worth the convenience? For now, most industry leaders agree, it’s up to the consumer to follow best practices when using digital healthcare.

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