Like many other people, Ms. Krinsk thought that her prescription information was private. But in fact, prescriptions, and all the information on them — including not only the name and dosage of the drug and the name and address of the doctor, but also the patient’s address and Social Security number — are a commodity bought and sold in a murky marketplace, often without the patients’ knowledge or permission.But given the money involved, I'm afraid it isn't.
But with the pharmaceutical industry soon to release $150M dollars of ads promoting health reform as they cozy up to Congressional leaders, the conflicts of interest for patient's privacy are staggering. Further, the promotion of the electronic medical record, personal health records, and ultimately, cloud computing (where no one will know where health data resides), are firmly part of the health reform landscape.
Now before people think I'm totally against the EMR, let me be candid: I'm not. It does facilitate care and is an incredible means of communication between physicians and laboratories and pharmacies and the like. When used properly, they are miraculous.
But the risks of losing information remain huge. Certainly, the above referenced New York Times article notes that safeguards are supposed to be enacted to prevent this wholesale marketing of your health data.
But suddenly, we learn of a White House snitch line where they will collect e-mails of people who might be spreading "misinformation" about the health reform efforts underway. (Thanks to my previous blog post, I am happy to report I've been reported! ;)) But this occurs at a time when privacy issues in health care must be seen as paramount and electronic medical records prototed as secure.
So now we have a White House eager to build a snitch line as they cozy up to pharaceutical interests that are already selling personal information from prescription data, all while trying to promote the security of electronic medical records to the masses.
Who are they kidding?
But then, shucks, just think of the marketing possibilities for the government:
And lest people think I'm too partisan (who me?), the Republicans with their travel junkets aren't any better.
Reference: White House blog with snitch e-mail link at firstname.lastname@example.org .