AMA privacy survey sheds light on patient privacy concerns around data purchasing, Big Tech

The news: A July 25 American Medical Association (AMA) data privacy survey highlights deep concerns around the healthcare data purchasing of health data. Health care insights company Savvy Cooperative interviewed 1,000 patients to gauge how they feel about medical data sharing.

  • More than 92% of people consider privacy their right and believe corporations or other individuals should not purchase their data, per the AMA survey.

Digging into the data: Patients expressed concerns about how Big Tech companies manage data.

  • 75.2% were most comfortable with a doctor’s office handling their data.
  • Similarly, 64.2% were most comfortable with a hospital or health system accessing their data.
  • However, 67.4% felt least comfortable about Big Tech using their data and 71.2% were least comfortable with social media sites accessing their data.

What this means: Patients’ distrust in nontraditional healthcare entities is a warning sign to Big Tech companies aggressively morphing into healthcare companies.

  • Just recently—and piling onto its myriad healthcare endeavors—Amazon announced it would buy primary care disrupter One Medical for nearly $4 billion.
  • And so far in 2022, Alphabet has spent $1.7 billion on health tech innovations. That’s compared with $100 million spent by other Big Tech companies combined, per The Economist’s tracking.

Go deeper: We detail Big Tech’s health endeavors in our Power of Google report and Amazon Delivers Healthcare report.

Challenges ahead: Data privacy concerns could shine light on the difficulties and poor literacy surrounding patient data sharing.

In June, the HHS Office for Civil Rights put out new guidance on protected health information (PHI) sharing.

  • The HHS guidance revealed patients’ concerns about data privacy in period-tracking apps.
  • HHS said that providers can only share PHI with law enforcement and without a patient’s consent in narrow circumstances that protect the person’s privacy and access to healthcare, such as abortion care.

The big takeaway: App developers should consider privacy implications when developing mobile health apps and follow the AMA privacy guide.

  • In addition, Big Tech companies may hire more health regulators and legal experts to prepare for privacy challenges ahead.

Tech companies should also improve healthcare literacy so patients understand where their data goes.

  • AI tools can translate medical jargon into lay terms for patients so they can make sense of their doctors’ electronic health record (EHR) notes, per a Journal of Medical Internet Research study.
  • And healthcare companies should follow the AMA’s guidance on app transparency and the app privacy attestations that EHRs collect.
  • Releasing data privacy surveys could help foster trust between patients and clinicians, according to the AMA.

Read on: For a deep dive into the healthcare data privacy landscape and how consumers view their health data check out our Healthcare Data Privacy 2021 report.