From Tom's Desk
Bose, the world class sound equipment manufacturer, was sued this past week in Federal Court, accused of collecting information on the listening content individual users and selling it as metadata. Though some have responded with outrage and calls for boycott and new regulation, the public has most commonly responded with a shrug and a what-do-you-expect? Overall, it seems that we, as a society, are getting used to the fact that our zone of privacy is shrinking rapidly.
I wonder what the reaction will be if a healthcare delivery organization (HDOs) is found selling PHI-free metadata from their electronic health record?
Exposing your secret Barry Manilow obsession is one thing, exposing your STD history is another. Even if you can be assured it’s not identifiable, you’re gonna be pissed.
I have absolutely no knowledge that such metadata sales by HDOs are going on, only that they are definitely a grey area within the impenetrable scrivenings that are HIPPA law . And I also know that, in an era when the actual delivery of healthcare services carries decreasing margins, organizations are looking for every possible revenue stream to help support their cashflow. In our current environment, based on no specific information whatever, I would be stunned if such information exchanges are not occurring—and you know you would be to.
If found liable, I suspect Bose was exposed by a disgruntled employee. Even though the reaction has been blasé thus far, the company’s secrecy and denials are certainly not going to enhance it’s corporate reputation.
It’s frightening to think what might happen to the first HDO caught with its hand in the cookie jar.
After all, as clinicians and HDOs, the actual product we sell is trust.