When technology became advanced enough for individuals to become proactive about their health, many jumped on board and purchased devices that could actively accomplish this. One tech company, Apple, has recently been pushing with CMS to provide patients with more control over their own health data. However, this availability brings with it a new concern regarding the security and privacy of making sure no one else can access this information.
Writer Rachel Z. Arndt recently took a look and commented on how the push for individuals to use devices that can give access to one’s personal health information has raised new concerns over the privacy and security of this data. Although I currently track my health through my original Apple Watch and iPhone 7 Plus, I have not put any personal health information in it yet for two reasons; the first being that I have been lackadaisical about taking the time to do it, but the other reason is that I have concerns over the privacy and security that is outside of my doctor’s office.
Being Proactive is Not Always Safe
When an individual makes the decision to become proactive regarding their health, it is important to comprehend the risks involved, depending on how far you are willing to go. Currently, a patient’s health data is traditionally stored on an Electronic Health Record (EHR) in their doctor’s office and while steps are taken to maintain its’ privacy and security, there have been cases reported where these records have been illegally accessed.
Being how Apple and CMS are pushing to incorporate ways that patients can have more control and access to their health records, this means more avenues become open to possibly jeopardizing both patients’ privacy as well as the security of that data. The latest launch of Apple’s iteration of its’ Health app allows users to have their EHR information on their iPhones; the tech giant can accomplish this as it has partnered up with thirty-nine health systems that will make this information available.
Yet, this has many wondering if this is worth the possible risks that might occur. Daniel Farris, who is the chair of the technology practice at Fox Rothschild, said that when you have this data on your phone, you have risks that would traditionally not have existed. Even organizations run the risk of feeling the backlash when their consumers data becomes compromised.
Consequences When Personal Data Becomes Compromised
One organization that can attest to the consequences and backlash when individual’s data becomes compromised is Facebook. Putting aside the potentially political and public backlash it faces over compromised consumer information, others are arguing that the organization’s issues with Cambridge Analytica should alert tech executives who are responsible for protecting consumer info.
Unlike traditionally downloading information onto a smartphone and forgetting about it, patients need to realize that it is their responsibility to keep the health data private and secure. Health vendors and systems are strongly urging patients to take precautions while understanding the risks involved. John Kravitz, who is the chief information officer at Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger, said that the patient who downloads this information absolutely must secure their device to protect their own records; they are the original health systems to allow their records to be linked to Apple’s Health app.
Besides health systems and companies, another player behind pushing patients to have real-time access to their health information comes directly from the federal government. Jared Kushner is the senior adviser to President Trump and the CMS Administrator Seema Verma who wants to see added interoperability while giving patients the ability to control their information more; this was announced in March at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual meeting.
Like many people who have concerns regarding their health, I agree that individuals should be proactive in finding ways to monitor their health while having access to their electronic health records. However, patients need to realize it is their responsibility to keep their data secure and private while understanding that the more companies that have access to their records, the more of a chance for a breach to occur.