Feds to Deregulate Medical Data Protection

The American public will soon be able to access their medical records through apps on their smartphones just as quickly as they can now order Chinese takeout or book a ride on Uber. However, many prominent medical groups have begun warning that the ease of patient info sharing with these same kind of apps are not safe enough from hacking invasions. And they are protesting what they see as a looming medical/data catastrophe.

The conflict comes from some landmark medical info-sharing regulations that the national government is just finishing up. These regulations mandate for the first time that healthcare providers send medical data to 3rd party apps when a patient has authorized such an exchange with group like Apple Health Records. The proposed regulations, from the Department of Health and Human Services, are supposed to help patients access their own medical records on a more convenient level so they comprehend their treatment options better and learn how to manage their diagnosis. 

But groups including the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, and the American Medical Association, have been warning federal government agencies since this past spring that patients who authorize smartphone apps to retrieve personal medical data are opening themselves up to the potential for major information hacking and abuse. When patients have once transferred their personal medical information through a third party app federal privacy protection is no longer applicable. In the past, these federal regulations kept a firewall in place against all third party data carriers. 

Medical practitioners fear that the spread of personal medical information by unauthorized sources, especially if it is sold on the cyber black market for exorbitant prices, will inevitably lead to higher health insurance rates. They also believe that if prospective employers can get their hands on medical files there are grave possibilities for massive job discrimination to take place. 

Medical organizations will be meeting with government regulators this fall to press their case again.