Let's face it. Healthcare in the US is confusing.

Healthcare How to Make Sure Your Healthcare Provider Monetizes Your Data

By Taft Stietti

Let's face it. Healthcare in the US is confusing.

Let's face it. Healthcare in the US is confusing. Between navigating insurance coverage, deductibles, premiums and copays - not to mention handling separate bills from doctors, testing labs and pharmacies - it can feel like there isn't enough time to focus on the important things. Like whether or not the parties involved are extracting full value from your personal health data. 

Sure, there are myriad third parties helping hospitals, pharmacies, insurers and drug makers segment, sell and resell consumer information. But despite the infrastructure we have in place, how do you know that your providers are taking full advantage of your data? 

It goes without saying that patient data monetization is a good thing. For one, it supports the economy. It helps companies in the healthcare ecosystem offset other costs, such as their marketing budgets and executive bonuses. It enables a personalized advertising experience that patients crave, which empowers YOU to ask your doctor for the best brand name drugs. And lastly, it is ethical. If other patients' data is effectively monetized and sold to third parties, but yours isn't, then you are underrepresented in today's healthcare system. And that's not right. 

The first thing we need to do is to clean up the anonymization of patient records. The de-identification process that turns your name and email into a hashed identifier makes the system too murky. How do you know which data segments you're included in? Sure, you can make assumptions based on the advertisements you see. But there's no real transparency to give you confidence that these companies know the real you. 

Another way to ensure that corporate entities are extracting maximum value from your health condition and treatment plan is to ASK YOUR DOCTOR. You are your own advocate. If they tell you they have other patients to attend to and that too much of their time is tied up in patients worried about billing, insurance, and consumer protections, be firm. You have a right as a patient to understand the full journey that data travels from your chart, your insurance company, and your pharmacy to the marketing agencies that serve you ads. 

Finally, political advocacy. No, not voting or calling your representatives. Donating to lobbying groups like PhRMA, who lead the fight in Washington DC to free the healthcare industry from onerous regulation. As we all know, regulation hurts profit. Engineering a healthcare system built to "help people" hurts profit. Negotiated drug prices hurt profit. Bans on selling sensitive health condition and prescription data hurts profit. And that hurts the economy, which is the backbone of public health.

At the end of the day, you need to advocate for yourself when it comes to your health data. While companies such as IQVIA, Crossix, Experian and so many others are out there fighting the good fight, it's ultimately the responsibility of every patient to make sure that their healthcare data is properly monetized.