Recently I have been experiencing some symptoms which had me worried that I might be having heart issues. Again.
I made an appointment with my cardiologist.
I made an appointment with my general practitioner.
Tests are being scheduled and performed.
And I made the decision to buy an Apple watch.
Why? Because I believe that it can help provide additional screening with regards to my health on a day-to-day basis. When I am feeling “wonky” I can run an ECG or take my pulse rate to see if there is an abnormality. Along with my Apple Smart Phone I am able to log and view my sleep patterns, activity level, heart rate, ECG, nutrition, etc. So much can be seen with the watch that it boggles my 67 year old mind!
So I began what I thought was a thorough research and study of what version of the watch I wanted, its capabilities, cost, etc. What I didn’t research was the possible impact on my privacy.
It wasn’t until Justin Bennett contacted me and made me aware of the possible ramifications and the need and ways to protect oneself that I realized how important this is. And so I share his information with you today.
Justin Bennett is an author and the creator of Healthy Fit, which collects valuable fitness resources from across the web. He has graciously offered to help us understand this new world of technology that we live in and how to safely navigate it for the best outcomes for our health and privacy.
Tech Companies, Apps, and Your Health Data by Justin Bennett
According to ZenBusiness, there are plenty of ways in which a smart watch can help you with your work – not to mention your life. In addition to reminding you about important meetings, you use your device to log your REM cycles, count calories, and even get lower premiums on your health insurance policy. But do you understand how your health data is used by the companies you share it with?
If you assume the health data you share with tech companies is protected by the same laws that preserve your privacy at the doctor’s office, you’re mistaken. While health privacy laws and regulations protect personal health information in certain circumstances, the data collected by health-based tech companies largely goes unregulated. Surviving Medical Mayhem brings you the following expert insights:
Why Should I Be Worried?
- Per Harvard University: “A new culture of social media and data sharing has encouraged Americans to willingly share personal information on Internet forums, which are not regulated under HIPAA. This information may or may not be medical in nature, but it can be used to tie anonymized medical data back to specific individuals. Scientists showed in 2018 that they could take a large set of health data, remove Protected Health Information, and use machine learning to re-identify 95% of individual adults and 80% of individual children.”
How Can I Protect Myself?
- Speaking to CTV News, ESET Senior Security Researcher Stephen Cobb says that “when creating an online account to store your personal data, use a unique, strong password that is difficult for anyone to guess … This is especially important for people who have accounts with multiple services online, and who use the same email and password for each one. People who do this face extra security risks, because if there is a security breach at one company, hackers potentially have access to all of your other accounts.”
What Medical Practices Do to Protect Personal Health Information
- Health IT News asserts that “an enormous amount of data is exchanged in the process of delivering care, even within a single organization. That is only amplified when sharing data between different organizations with disparate networks and systems, which may not be compatible with one another. Providers must be able to move data quickly and easily to support their primary mission while protecting privacy and meeting HIPAA standards.”
While wearable fitness trackers and smartphones can be very useful tools in monitoring your health and fitness goals, medical data privacy is rightfully a growing concern for consumers. Take steps to better control your health data. Rather than blindly accepting user agreements, make sure you read and understand privacy policies before accepting them and if you’re not comfortable, opt out. It’s better to miss out on a new app or gadget than to put your most personal information at risk.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.