Medical Privacy in the News

Medical app bill signed into law, September 9, 2013, Consumer Federation of California
One of the biggest concerns related to the use of smartphones in medical care is the potential breach of patient confidentiality. The increasing use of mobile application software (apps) adds new issues to patient information security and requires new privacy measures. When Personal Health Records (PHRs) are stored electronically, they can become exposed to data breaches.  Read article here.

HHS settles with health plan in photocopier breach case, August 14, 2013, HHS News
Under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Affinity Health Plan, Inc. will settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules for $1,215,780…Affinity estimated that up to 344,579 individuals may have been affected by this breach. OCR’s investigation indicated that Affinity impermissibly disclosed the protected health information of these affected individuals when it returned multiple photocopiers to leasing agents without erasing the data contained on the copier hard drives. Read article here.

Your medical records are for sale, August 13, 2013, Bloomberg Business Week
As hospitals shift to digital medical records, administrators promise patients better care and shorter waits. They often neglect to mention that they share files with state health agencies, which in turn sell the information to private data-mining companies. The records are stripped of names and addresses, and there’s no evidence that data miners are doing the legwork to identify individual patients. Yet the records often contain patients’ ages, zip codes, and treatment dates—enough metadata for an inquiring mind to match names to files or for aggressive companies to target ads or hike insurance premiums. Read article here.

Electronic medical records allow more people access to your private health information, July 17, 2013, ABC, News 10
The days of doctor/patient privacy are dwindling as more agencies and companies wield technology to peer into your medical records. Privacy advocates are now bracing for full implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, which calls for more electronic record keeping and more opportunities for database mining of health records by marketers, credit agencies and law enforcement. Read article here.

WellPoint pays HHS $1.7 million for leaving information accessible over Internet, July 11, 2013, HHS News
The managed care company WellPoint Inc. has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) $1.7 million to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules…This case sends an important message to HIPAA-covered entities to take caution when implementing changes to their information systems, especially when those changes involve updates to Web-based applications or portals that are used to provide access to consumers’ health data using the Internet. Read article here.

Data breaches accessed information of 2.5 million Californians, July 2, 2013, Sacramento Bee
Electronic data breaches put the personal information of 2.5 million Californians at risk in 2012, according to a new report released Monday by Attorney General Kamala Harris. State law requires businesses and government agencies to notify consumers when a data breach might have put their personal information at risk. A bill passed in 2012 also requires companies to report a breach to the attorney general when more than 500 consumers’ information has been accessed. Read article here.


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