The very legislation meant to facilitate the protection of our personal medical data is now one of the key elements blocking our ability to take our health into our own hands. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), was established in the mid 90s at the advent of the digital era in healthcare to ensure the security and portability of medical records from one insurance company to another. Today it is, perhaps unintentionally, having the opposite effect. Instead of portable health, HIPAA offers an excuse for data to be trapped, causing many who live with significant medical conditions, requiring both proactive and reactive management of their medical identities, to view the legislation as a restrictive and infuriating limitation in the name of patient privacy. On the personal level, these onerous regulations limit the free exchange of information between pertinent parties, while on the industry-wide level, they serve to stifle innovation, medical breakthroughs, and experience enhancements. As a new generation of millennials, with very different privacy mores begin to encounter the healthcare system more and more, they will demand ownership of their data. They will resist attempts to have it held for them and we dare you to tell them it’s “for their own good.”
Imagine instead a future where individuals dictate what happens to their own medical data. What if the power to view your own medical history–free of restrictions–was at your fingertips, no paperwork required? Or better yet, what if your fingerprint alone could be the gateway between you and your clinically-quantified self? What opportunities would this kind of accessible data unlock? What if you had the option to share your data with researchers, healthcare practitioners, entrepreneurs, or innovators? The possibilities are boundless when we think of all the data-driven advancements that could be made in the health and wellness industry–from enhancing people’s experience interacting with healthcare professionals to unlocking life-saving advancements in science.
Right now, we are looking to emerging technology like blockchain and other secured, certified platforms to radically advance health data ownership. Think about it: If financial services can do it, why can’t healthcare?