Protecting Your Health Information

medical-recordsWhile health information is protected in doctors’ offices, hospitals and other healthcare institutions, that simply isn’t the case in the online world. The Department of Health and Human Services warns that HIPAA privacy regulations do not apply to information you reveal on social media, in emails and web searches or when using health apps. The unfortunate fact is that information you provide when using these applications is fair game, often being gathered by data aggregators for sale to insurers, employers and others.

Another problem is that the privacy policies included by websites contain pages of small print and are seldom read. Too many people just assume their information is protected, click “accept” and move on. In 2014, the State of California adopted a law that extends HIPAA-like protection to online medical information, requiring medical apps to meet the same standards of confidentiality required by healthcare providers. Many believe that with more and more medical information moving online, it’s time for other states to follow.

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Online Second Opinions Expand

health-screeningsMedical centers that offer second opinions online are experiencing increased demand for their services, especially from patients located overseas and those with very serious conditions. According to the Patient Advocate Foundation, costs for an online second opinion vary, often ranging from $500 to $1,500. One new California-based service provides second opinions for $300 with optional video conferences costing $200 more.

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