Private medical records are not really private

politics | Mar 20, 2012 | By PRI

PRI has released another short, humorous cartoon! This time, it's a Schoolhouse Rock-style starring your medical records, and showing just how much danger your privacy actually is in.

The video, available for viewing here, is only a minute and a half long. But in the snappy, humorous style that has come to define PRI's cartoons, it explains how existing laws leave your medical records very vulnerable--to everyone from from government officials to insurance companies.

“Even without a break-in,” says Steven Mosher, PRI's president, “your electronic health records are already an open book to millions of providers, employers, government agencies, insurance companies, billing firms, transcription services, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmaceutical companies, data miners, creditors and more. This is considered “routine” use, and is not covered by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).

“In fact,” Mosher continues, “you probably did not know that in 2002 HHS actually amended the HIPAA “Privacy Rule” to eliminate the patient's “right of consent” altogether.”

In light of the federal government's recent push to move more and more of our medical records onto electronic databases, it is more important than ever that we keep privacy concerns in the front of our minds. If anyone can open our healthcare records, then anyone can have direct control over how that information is used. In a society where life issues are less and less respected, this is an issue of paramount importance.

“This video is supposed to just be a push in the right direction,” says Colin Mason, PRI's Director of Media and the video's co-creator. “The digitization of just about everything makes our lives significantly easier, but it brings along hefty concerns, as well. The problem is, most people don't even consider how often their privacy is being compromised. If we can use humor and smart graphics to get people thinking about these concerns, we've done our job.”

“This video, like all our others, is designed to get a discussion going,” says Joseph Powell, the video's creator and animator. “PRI believes that the solution to most privacy issues is for us to take control of our own medical records, and this is what the video recommends.”

“This issue,” continues Mason, “is so often swept under the rug by politicians and the media. We can't allow the advantages of electronic records to blind us to the dangers.”

“Our records are our identity,” he concludes. “We deserve to be able to control them.”




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