Prescription Data Used To Assess Consumers

Health and life insurance companies have access to a powerful new tool for evaluating whether to cover individual consumers: a health “credit report” drawn from databases containing prescription drug records on more than 200 million Americans.

Collecting and analyzing personal health information in commercial databases is a fledgling industry, but one poised to take off as the nation enters the age of electronic medical records. While lawmakers debate how best to oversee the shift to computerized records, some insurers have already begun testing systems that tap into not only prescription drug information, but also data about patients held by clinical and pathological laboratories.

Calls for doctor-prescription database raise privacy warnings

It’s surprisingly easy for a patient in Florida to get numerous prescriptions of the same drug filled, sometimes in the same day.

Florida is among 15 states that don’t have a government-run centralized database that links all doctors and pharmacies to combat doctor shopping.

Twice it’s been proposed in the state legislature, failing to pass both times.

“There’s an easy way to address this problem, but the state has not made it a priority because there are some privacy concerns, and that’s really just ignorance,” said state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D- Greenacres. “We can save lives and money (by eliminating lengthy investigations) if we implement the database.”

ACLU Urges Congress to Ensure Privacy of Electronic Health Records

Americans worried medical secrets in new databases will be misused Washington, DC Today, lawmakers will be making decisions about the future of patients’ medical privacy as legislation aimed at pushing the health care industry toward a conversion from paper to electronic health records is due for a vote by a House panel.

The American Civil Liberties Union urges the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to amend Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) and Ranking Member Joe Barton’s (R-TX) “PRO(TECH)T Act of 2008”  to protect and secure Americans’ intensely personal health information as it encourages the development of new record-keeping databases.

“You know how hard it is to get yourself or a loved one to the doctor’s office,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Imagine having what’s under the gown displayed in a database without restrictions. If this legislation gets approved, Americans’ medical secrets will be extremely vulnerable to being lost, stolen or sold to the highest bidder.”

Prescription for protecting online health records

Hoping to persuade more people to store their medical records online, Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and a hodgepodge of health care providers and insurers have agreed on ground rules for protecting the privacy of the sensitive information.

The guidelines unveiled Wednesday are designed to reassure patients that they can enjoy the convenience of keeping their medical histories in online filing cabinets without worrying that will open a door for outsiders to peruse the data without their knowledge.

Your private health details may already be online

Imagine my surprise when, in the course of doing research for this story, I stumbled upon my own personal health information online.

There it was in black, white, and hypertext blue. My annual mammograms; the visits to the podiatrist for the splinter in my foot; the kind of birth control I use — it was all on my health insurance company’s Web site. And that’s not all: The prescriptions drugs I use were listed on the Web site where I get my prescription drug insurance.

FDA to develop electronic information system. EIS will be used to improve medical-product safety.

The Food and Drug Administration is developing a new electronic information system to monitor how drugs and other medical products perform once they go on the market.

Called the Sentinel System, the data-mining technology will enable the agency to gather information about medical products by querying electronic health records, patient registry data, insurance claims data, and other large health care information databases. The project is in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is intended to improve patient safety and medical care.

Google launches online medical records service

Google on Monday launched Google Health, a long-anticipated medical records service letting US users store and manage their health care information online.

The offering raises privacy concerns and draws yet another battle line between Internet search king Google and global software giant Microsoft, which began offering a similar HealthVault service in October.

Q&A with Charter VP: Your Web activity, logged and loaded

Charter Communications is planning to monitor its customers’ Web surfing and then, anonymously, display relevant advertisements.
What the third-largest U.S. cable operator, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., probably wasn’t planning on was a privacy-fueled Internet backlash that began a few days ago after it began notifying customers of its intentions. For its part, Charter describes its behavioral profiling plans this way: “innovative new technology in the field of online advertising enables Charter to provide you with an enhanced online experience that is more customized to your interests and activities.”

St.Jude Collaborates With Microsoft

St. Jude Medical and Microsoft collaborate to provide patients and physicians with better access to health records.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) today announced a partnership with the Microsoft Corp. Health Solutions Group to research the integration of data from implantable devices with patient-controlled, personal health records. St. Jude Medical and Microsoft will work with physicians to determine the optimal level of integration (between the Merlin.net™ Patient Care Network and Microsoft® HealthVault) that will allow physicians to efficiently and confidentially share device information with their patients.
Merlin.net PCN is a secure Internet-based system that collects and displays information from implantable devices, such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). It stores data that is captured during implant procedures, in-office follow-up visits with physicians and remote follow-up transmissions in patients’ homes. Transmitted data includes reports of irregular heart rhythms and real-time electrograms (EGM) which show patients’ heartbeats at the time of transmission.

Payer says system could spot Vioxx-like mishaps

In September 2004, Merck & Co. pulled its widely prescribed arthritis drug Vioxx off the market. The Food and Drug Administration followed with the release of a study that found Vioxx may have led to more than 27,000 incidences of heart attack or sudden cardiac deaths. The FDA based its findings on an analysis of patients’ records in a database created by Kaiser Permanente.

Since then, Congress has been pressuring the FDA to improve and computerize its early-warning drug system. In September 2007, it passed the Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments, which mandated the FDA to set up a computerized drug-safety surveillance system.