Proponents of new federal rules allowing providers to share medical records to third-party apps say they will empower patients to take control of their healthcare — but groups such as the American Medical Association and American Hospital Association are not convinced.
The AMA, AHA, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and more have voiced their opposition since the Department of Health and Human Services proposed the new regulations earlier this year, The New York Times reports. According to these organizations, once medical data has been transferred from secure, federally protected EHR systems to consumer apps such as Apple’s Health Records, they will be vulnerable to a whole host of potential privacy violations.
“Patients simply may not realize that their genetic, reproductive health, substance abuse disorder, mental health information can be used in ways that could ultimately limit their access to health insurance, life insurance or even be disclosed to their employers,” Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, an anesthesiologist and chair of the AMA’s board, told the Times.
“Patient privacy can’t be retrieved once it’s lost,” Dr. Ehrenfeld added.
Brett Meeks, vice president of policy and legal for the nonprofit Center for Medical Interoperability, proposed that a secure data-sharing platform should be put in place before records can be shared with third-party apps.
“Facebook, Google and others are currently under scrutiny for being poor stewards of consumer data,” Mr. Meeks told the Times. “Why would you carte blanche hand them your health data on top of it so they could do whatever they want with it?”
In response to these concerns, however, Don Rucker, MD, an emergency physician and the HHS’ national coordinator for health information technology, said the new rules will not only empower patients, but also give tech companies the tools to develop improved health products.
Dr. Rucker also suggested physicians and hospitals’ main grievance with the rules are not their potential data abuses, but rather the loss of any financial benefit that may come from having a monopoly on medical data. “All we’re saying is that patients have a right to choose as opposed to the right being denied them by the forces of paternalism,” he told the Times.