Brave New World of Health Data Poses New Questions and Opportunities
From apps for counting calories to devices for tracking steps, new digital tools can provide ever clearer pictures of our health. But while data collected by new health innovations has powerful implications for personalizing medicine, it also raises important questions about consumer privacy. A report released this week by the California HealthCare Foundation points out that as healthcare moves out of the hospital and into wearable devices and consumer tools, health data increasingly falls outside the protection of HIPAA. That means huge databases of consumer health information are free to travel between data brokers, employers, insurers and all kinds of third parties. But despite the privacy risks, the CHCF reports that many consumers are willing to share their data to improve their own health or achieve public health goals. And it highlights the opportunities for companies that offer personal health data lockers and other ways for consumers to securely store their health data.