While using the internet for our health care needs can be convenient, it can also be a concern for keeping data and personal information secure. From checking symptoms, to making doctor’s appointments, to convening with medical professionals online, the internet has become a one stop shop for all of our needs. Something to consider though is the price of this convenience. What are the laws protecting your information? And are they enough?
It turns out that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which most consumers assume completely protects them, is actually relatively outdated. The law was written before the internet boom, and does not take into consideration the amount of data that we today transmit electronically today. (NPR)
You might even wonder, who is even interested in my health data? And the answer is companies who want to advertise to you, and get to know your needs. But why would anyone care about the symptom that you inquired about last week? Simply put, companies want to collect any data about consumers and sell it whenever they can. Unfortunately, this data is not protected, and since we rarely seek out to protect it ourselves, it is basically fair game. (NPR)
So what is the solution to all of this? What can consumers to do make sure that they are protected? The bottom line is that at the moment health care data is too easy to intercept. Although a change in the law might be the long-term solution, in the short-tem, at the very least it is crucial for consumers to be aware of the risks.