The Hidden Global Trade in Patient Medical Data

As the global trade in health data continues its rapid growth, regulators are not keeping pace and most patients are unaware that their details can be sold. The use of such data in research could lead to new treatments, but privacy is also at risk. The United States has led on this trade even as its own health system is fragmented with many patients unable to access their own complete records. Patients in other nations may assume that privacy protections are in place, but author Adam Tanner points to cases where identification codes were cracked. “Patient dossiers omit obvious identifiers such as names and national ID numbers, but have become more vulnerable to re-identification as computing power advances and a constant influx of data provide ever more clues into who is who and where patients live and work.” he explains. Tanner encourages government officials to study the new industry’s trends and lead with informed public debate. – YaleGlobal