Will privacy keep Health 2.0 from the starting gate?

Will privacy keep Health 2.0 from the starting gate?

Summary: Fact is, any insurance company determined to find your health status has plenty of tools it can use to profile you, even if you don't place a PHR online or visit a Health 2.0 site. Our transaction records are like a trail of bread crumbs, the main difference now being that we become easier to trace because we can no longer stand being alone.

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Virtuous Cycle of Health 2.0 from Health 2.0 wikiThe Health 2.0 conference in San Diego this week was a sell-out, and the schmoozefest was filled with the kind of promise which Janet Dillione of Siemens spoke about last week. (Picture from the Health 2.0 wiki.)

But will privacy concerns strangle Health 2.0 in its crib?

Just two weeks ago the World Privacy Forum, ironically also based in San Diego, came out with two warnings about Personal Health Records (PHRs) which made them appear to be a tragedy waiting to happen.

PHRs, once placed online, are not covered by HIPAA, the forum said, since they're yours and you can share your data with who you will. They can be subpoened, they could be sold, and insurance companies may troll them looking for policies to cancel, the forum added.

It put out a consumer advisory filled with warnings, recommending in the end that you maintain your PHR off-line.

In many ways the dangers of PHRs are like those of any social networking site, like Facebook, or any Web site at all. I've compromised my own privacy many times right here, talking about my own problems and those of family members.

What I've gotten from that is validation, community, an acceptance of my own humanity, and some very good friends. Between that and isolation there is no comparison, at least for me.

Conference attendees also focused on the positives of networking. Sites like Alzinfo give Alzheimer's families a community. CareSeek launched a doctors' rating service at the conference.

Fact is, any insurance company determined to find your health status has plenty of tools it can use to profile you, even if you don't place a PHR online or visit a Health 2.0 site.

Our transaction records are like a trail of bread crumbs, the main difference with Health 2.0 being that we become easier to trace because we can no longer stand being alone.

You don't think about it until you, or someone you love, faces a diagnosis. Suddenly information, and comfort, matter a lot more than theoretical privacy.

That's what the Health 2.0 start-ups are banking on. Are they right to bank on it, or wrong?

Topics: Legal, CXO, Enterprise Software, Health, Software, IT Employment

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6 comments
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  • No sale, thank you.

    Without HIPPA-like protections in place then I won't bother with it. Your health care is not some trivial lifestyle junk like a MySpace or Facebook page. You can and will be discriminated against if there are no clear privacy protections in place that are enforced promptly. Why give insurance companies and employers more rope to deny you coverage and employment for health conditions that, in most cases, are outside of your control?

    I have worked in companies where hiring managers told me that they would not hire a given person because she might get pregnant. Not that she was pregnant, but she mentioned in an interview session that one day she would like to be a Mom. Therefore, why hire someone who might need "expensive" solutions to a problematic pregnancy?

    I have heard hiring managers say they would not hire a 50 something because that 50 something person probably needs lots of medications and doctor visits due to their age.

    And last but not least, have you ever found out what happens when you get new health insurance when you change jobs and you are denied coverage for a pre-existing condition such as asthma?

    The system is not tilted in the favor of the individual, all these sites will do is weaken your right to privacy if we allow these entities to proceed without strong and meaningful privacy protections. The fundamental insecurity of the web is such that there is no privacy, so count me out of this debacle.
    ThePrairiePrankster
  • RE: Will privacy keep Health 2.0 from the starting gate?

    Unfortunately, no. Privacy won't keep Health 2.0 from the starting gate. Companies know that they can overcome the normal human desire for privacy by continually raising the price of privacy. As the price of privacy increases in money (grocery loyalty cards), convenience (having to read and understand "Privacy Policies" for websites), and now even efficient health care (Health 2.0), people will soon decide the price of privacy is too high.

    Too bad nobody includes the price of privacy in the cost of living.
    Free_Thinker
  • "will privacy concerns strangle Health 2.0 in its crib?"

    We can only hope......
    IT_Guy_z
  • RE: Will privacy keep Health 2.0 from the starting gate?

    I will be a big issue - and has to be solved - but it didn't keep online banking from taking over.

    http://humanvoice.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/google-vs-microsoft-in-healthcare/

    Tom O'B
    tomob
  • RE: Will privacy keep Health 2.0 from the starting gate?

    here are the patient / doctor documentaries that premiered
    at the conference:

    health.scribemedia.org/2008/03/07/doctors-patients-
    diseases-conditions/
    pcervieri
  • RE: Will privacy keep Health 2.0 from the starting gate?

    I am very pleased with the thought and don?t feel like adding anything in it. It a perfect answer.
    Sean Cruz
    <a rel="dofollow" href="http://www.hipaaguide.net" rel="dofollow">hipaa</a>
    sean.cruz2@...