Tag Archives: privacy

Health data bazaar: Covering the legal trade in patient data

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health IT since the late 1990s for a variety of publications.

cybersecurityThere’s a big focus these days on cybersecurity in health care, and rightly so, with the frequency and cost of data breaches.

But what about the legal trade in patient data?

Adam Tanner, a former Reuters reporter and now writer in residence at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, has a new book out on the lucrative patient data industry. Continue reading

HIPAA experts: No need to request a waiver after Orlando shooting

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

emergency-roomSince Sunday’s horrific shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people and injured 53 patrons at the Pulse night club, journalists have been asking whether the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) limits what hospital administrators can say about a patient’s condition.

One source of confusion was a statement made by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer after the June 12 attack. Continue reading

Panelists agree HIPAA privacy rule is outdated #AHCJ16

Jocelyn Wiener

About Jocelyn Wiener

Jocelyn Wiener is an award-winning independent journalist based in Oakland, Calif. Her work has been published by the The Sacramento Bee, the Center for Health Reporting, Christian Science Monitor, Kaiser Health News, KQED, Pacific Standard, Stanford Magazine and in newspapers around the country.

security-graphistockCharles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica, kicked off a Health Journalism 2016 session about the federal government’s health privacy rule with several stories of privacy breaches:

  • A woman was watching television at night when she came upon footage documenting her husband’s death. She had never been contacted for permission.
  • A doctor hired a private investigator to investigate a patient.
  • A woman went online and found that a website had made public some 6,000 paternity cases.

These privacy breaches, Ornstein said, can be “very, very harmful” to individuals. Continue reading

Shared wisdom: Balancing privacy concerns when writing about family

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Janice Lynch Schuster

Janice Lynch Schuster

Writer Janice Lynch Schuster has featured family members and herself in articles about health issues, such as her grandmother’s cognitive impairment and her family’s decision to donate her brother-in-law’s organs.

Certainly such writing has a lot of privacy concerns and so she offers advice on writing publicly about family health issues in the latest Shared Wisdom piece on AHCJ’s aging core topic site.

AHCJ member speaks to attorneys about information in public health crises

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

This is a guest post from AHCJ member Rose Hoban, R.N., M.P.H.

What kind of information are public health officials obligated to provide to members of the public during an epidemic?

That was the theme of a panel this month at the third Public Health Law Conference in Atlanta with the theme of “Informing the Public While Protecting Privacy.”

I was asked to be part of the panel as a result of my participation in a collaborative effort between members of AHCJ and the leaders of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers and the National Association of County and City Health Officials, several state health directors, and representatives from federal agencies in 2010.

During that effort, we sat down to talk about creation of guidance for communicating during crises such as the H1N1 outbreak that took place in 2009-10.

Rosemary Hoban
Rose Hoban

I presented that guidance and the context of its creation to a room of about 40 attorneys who practice in the public health space. I acknowledged the difficulty public health officials have walking the line between giving journalists enough information to report effectively while allowing them to feel confident they’re protecting privacy. I also reassured them that by following the guidance, they’d be able to do both.

Also on the panel was Khaled El Emam, a professor of informatics from the University of Ottawa, who runs the Electronic Health Information Lab.

El Emam talked about his research in de-identifying personal identifying information in large databases, and the surprising ease with which one can glean personal information about an individual even within a large database.

He presented a tool developed by the lab that calculates the probability of an individual being identified in a given population. Continue reading