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, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

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Panelists agree HIPAA privacy rule is outdated #AHCJ16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. She writes regularly for Kaiser Health News and the Center for Health Reporting. Her work has run in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, Pacific Standard and 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 NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

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

Electronic records raise privacy concerns

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On Bloomberg’s Tech Blog, Jordan Peterson has been regularly hammering away and exposing, piece by piece, the privacy concerns that could arise from widespread adoption of electronic medical records. His latest piece addresses medical identity theft, and opens with a simple explanation of just how serious it can be.

Webcast: The status of health IT in your community

Farzad Mostashari

Join us online on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at noon ET for an exclusive on-the-record conversation with Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology, and other officials with the HHS Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

View and learn how to use an updated “Health IT Dashboard” to find local-level information about where Federal Recovery Act dollars are being spent on health IT programs, the percentage of doctors and hospitals adopting electronic health records, and how many doctors and pharmacies are using electronic prescribing tools.

This is an AHCJ members-only opportunity to learn about health IT and its impact on providers and patients in their own communities.

If your credit card is stolen, it may take a few minutes on the phone with the bank to reverse the fraudulent charges.
But if your identity is stolen and used for medical treatment, it could take a year or longer to undo the damage, a new study released today found. Victims may also get dropped by their insurance provider and end up paying the imposter’s bills just to make the problem go away, potentially to the tune of $100,000 or more.

According to the study, which was commissioned by an identity theft protection outfit, 1.85 million people could be affected by medical ID theft, which is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $41.3 billion this year. According to the article, 41 percent of respondents lost their insurance as a result of the theft, and 45 percent said they simply paid the fraudulent bill in order to make the problem go away rather than commit to the yearlong process of properly resolving it.

And, most, remarkably, Robertson writes, “Thirty-one percent of the survey respondents said they let family members use their information to obtain medical care, up from 26 percent last year. Most said it was because their family members were uninsured, couldn’t afford care or were experiencing a medical emergency.”

Other relevant posts in the ongoing series include: