Melanie Evans at the Wall Street Journal: “Hospitals have granted Microsoft Corp., International Business Machines and Amazon.com Inc. the ability to access identifiable patient information under deals to crunch millions of health records, the latest examples of hospitals’ growing influence in the data economy.
The breadth of access wasn’t always spelled out by hospitals and tech giants when the deals were struck.
The scope of data sharing in these and other recently reported agreements reveals a powerful new role that hospitals play—as brokers to technology companies racing into the $3 trillion health-care sector. Rapid digitization of health records and privacy laws enabling companies to swap patient data have positioned hospitals as a primary arbiter of how such sensitive data is shared.
“Hospitals are massive containers of patient data,” said Lisa Bari, a consultant and former lead for health information technology for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center.
Hospitals can share patient data as long as they follow federal privacy laws, which contain limited consumer protections, she said. “The data belongs to whoever has it.”…
Digitizing patients’ medical histories, laboratory results and diagnoses has created a booming market in which tech giants are looking to store and crunch data, with potential for groundbreaking discoveries and lucrative products.
There is no indication of wrongdoing in the deals. Officials at the companies and hospitals say they have safeguards to protect patients. Hospitals control data, with privacy training and close tracking of tech employees with access, they said. Health data can’t be combined independently with other data by tech companies….(More)”.