athenahealth and Mashery team up for health developer-friendly API initiative

To view the full article, please visit athenahealth and Mashery team up for health developer-friendly API initiative.

Electronic health records (EHRs) companies allow access to patients sensitive health data and sensitive information about physicians’  practices so technology companies can develop applications.

Applications have the potential to be useful to physicians and patients but at what cost to privacy? Will EHR “apps” secretly collect and sell people’s information the way Smartphone apps collect and sell contact, GPS data and more?  We now know the business model for many technologies is selling intimate personal data.

Quotes:

  • ·athenahealth will open “access to doctors’ appointment data, patient’s medical history (anonymized) , billing information and more”,
  • ·“the company hopes developers will be able to create an ecosystem of apps on top of athenahealth’s EMR service”
  • ·“Other EMR providers, including Allscripts and Greenway, have also opened up their APIs to developers and created app marketplaces.”

The press release on this athenahealth project stated, We’re providing the data and knowledge from our cloud-based network, a captive audience for developers to innovate for, and an online sandbox to do it all in.”

  • ·Who are the “captives”? athenahealth’s 40,000 physicians and their 100’s of thousands of patients

QUESTIONS:

  • ·When were the “captive” patients asked for consent for strangers who want to use and monetize their health records?
  • ·When were “captive” physicians asked consent for strangers to use information about their practices, what they charge, who they treat, how they treat patients, how they are paid by whom, and much more?
  • ·Why does athenahealth claim that patient data is “anonymized”—-when its impossible to prevent “anonymized” patient records from easy re-identification?

Many electronic health record (EHR) companies allow access/or sell sensitive patient data to technology developers and other companies.

BROADER QUESTIONS

  • ·When did the public learn about, debate, or agree to the use of their sensitive patient data by technology companies to build products?
  • ·Why do technology companies claim that “anonymization” and “de-identification” of health data works, when computer science has clearly proved them wrong?
  • ·How is the identifiable health data of hundreds of thousands of patients protected from any OTHER uses the technology developers decide to use it for?
  • ·How can the public weigh the risks and harms vs. benefits of using EHRs when there is no ‘chain of custody’ for our health data and no data map that tracks the thousands of HIDDEN users of our personal health information?
  • See Harvard Prof Latanya Sweeney explain the need for a data map at: http://tiny.cc/5pjqvw
    • -Attend or watch via live-streaming video the 2103 International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy in Washington DC June 5-6 to see the first data map Prof Sweeney’s team has built. Registration to attend or watch is free at: www.healthprivacytsummit.org

Attention doctors and vendors: Selling patient data without informed consent is now a federal crime

This post appeared as a guest blog in EHR Watch and in Healthcare IT News.

Another misguided, uninformed EHR vendor will discount the price of EHR software for doctors willing to sell patient data! According to CEO Jonathan Bush, “Athena might be able to halve the amount that physicians pay to use its EHR.”

Great business plan: Entice doctors to violate the law and the Hippocratic Oath.

See story on Athenahealth.

How is it possible to be so unaware of what the public wants? The public doesn’t want anything new or earth-shattering, just restoration of their rights to control who can see and use their medical records in electronic systems.

Not only is the practice of selling patient data an unethical PR/”optics” nightmare, but new consumer protections in the stimulus bill require that patients give informed consent before their protected health information can be sold. Violators are breaking a federal law.

The problem is that health information is an extremely valuable commodity, so people are always trying to use it without consent. Patients’ rights never seem to interfere with these business schemes.

More quotes from the story:

  • “Athena’s EHR customers who opt to share their patients’ data with other providers would pay a discounted rate to use Athena’s health record software.”
  • “Athena would be able to make money with the patient data by charging, say, a hospital a small fee to access a patient’s insurance and medical information from Athena’s network.”
  • “Caritas Christi [Health Care] initially launched Athena’s billing software and service in October and then revealed in January that it decided to offer the company’s EHR to physicians.”

How many patients would agree to sell their health records to help their doctor’s bottom line AND at the same time put their jobs, credit, and insurability at risk?

What will Athena’s informed consent for the sale of health patients health data look like? Will Athena lay out all the risks of harm? Will Athena lay out the fact that once the personal health data is sold, the buyer can re-sell it endlessly to even more users? Will Athena caution patients that once privacy is lost or SOLD, it can never be restored?

Many vendors do not realize that the lack of privacy and lack of trust is a major barrier to patients seeking healthcare. HHS reports 600,000 people a year refuse to get early diagnosis and treatment for cancer because they know the information won’t stay private, another 2,000,000 refuse early diagnosis and treatment for mental illness for the same reasons.

If you wonder what patients expect from electronic health systems, check out my slides (PDF) from a recent Health Innovation conference at the UT McCombs Business School.

Deborah C. Peel, MD
Founder and Chair
Patient Privacy Rights

AthenaHealth Paying Dearly to Take on Larger Rivals

Athenahealth is a high-flier in the Boston business community, led by the outspoken and forceful Jonathan Bush. Bush, however, openly admits that his Watertown, MA-based company (NASDAQ:ATHN) is relatively unknown outside of local business and technology circles—including among most U.S. physicians. Athena has been ramping up efforts to raise its profile among doctors, the target audience for its Internet-enabled billing and electronic health records services. Yet the company has been criticized for the relatively high price of the push…

…To compete with larger firms in the EHR game, Athena has been trying to allay the concerns of many physicians that they will ultimately end up losing money by deploying the records systems. Bush says that Athena might be able to halve the amount that physicians pay to use its EHR if they participate in what is now a nascent effort at the company called “AthenaCommunity.” Athena’s EHR customers who opt to share their patients’ data with other providers would pay a discounted rate to use Athena’s health record software. Athena would be able to make money with the patient data by charging, say, a hospital a small fee to access a patient’s insurance and medical information from Athena’s network. For a hospital’s part, this might be cheaper than paying its own staff to gather a patient’s information through standard intake procedures. Hallock, Athena’s spokesman, says the community is in development and is slated to launch later this year.