In 2017, the legal buying, selling, and trading of our personal medical data comprised a $14 billion dollar industry; that number is expected to grow over $68 billion by 2025. Adam Tanner is the author of Our Bodies, Our Data: How Companies Make Billions Selling Our Medical Records. In an article for Time magazine, Tanner writes: “The growth of the big health data bazaar comes at a time that very few patients have access to their own comprehensive records for their own care, despite billions of dollars of U.S. government spending to encourage the adoption of electronic medical records.” You can find the full article here.
Patients have a distinct lack of ownership when it comes to their own medical data. They are often asked to sign blanket consent forms that allow the practice of data trading when they are sick and potentially vulnerable. The buying and selling of medical data without explicit permission from the patient is technically allowed under HIPAA because the data is stripped of personally identifying characteristics, including names, Social Security numbers, and addresses. However, with today’s data mining technology and the vast amount of data available, the re-identification of anonymized data is only getting easier. Patientory believes it is time for patients to be put back in control of their own health information.