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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

March 3, 2023

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

Just like the original recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, secrets are supposed to be kept secret (oops). That is why we enjoy the 2007 National Treasure: Book of Secrets movie. It is a totally realistic portrayal of a plot to find a buried treasure beneath Mount Rushmore by kidnapping the U.S. President at his birthday party so he could be gently questioned about the location of the President’s book of secrets that has the treasure map in it. And while it is no secret that the stunningly beautiful Diane Kruger was a bit mismatched with her Book of Secrets co-star, the wolf-like Nicholas Cage, it is also true that her real-life beau is Norman Reedus of Walking Dead fame -- and the attraction there is a secret to us. In the One Thoughtful Paragraph, we look at who is being accused of failing to keep health information secrets.

Other less secretive health information policy news:

  • The HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced new restructuring efforts to better manage the dramatic increase in the number of HIPAA privacy complaints.

  • The Digital Medicine Society released a digital health regulation toolkit, with a library of digital health regulations and decision tools, to help founders of devices and software solutions better understand the landscape.

  • The FDA is asking for responses to its Request for Information on how to incorporate artificial intelligence into the current regulatory framework for pharmaceutical manufacturing as outlined in a new discussion paper. The deadline for comments is May 1, 2023. More here.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

In all of the National Treasure movies, the FBI goes after the guys trying to steal our nation’s secrets. In real life, our health data secrets have a new enforcer in town -- the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This may help with our trust issues, because -- as Rock Health just explained -- we are all reasonably nervous about sharing our health data with anyone other than our own doctors. The FTC is definitely busting down health information doors lately, with the GoodRx fine of $1.5M for illegally sharing patient data with advertisers, and a stern warning to Amazon to keep personal health information private after it acquired primary care practice chain One Medical. The agency’s latest announcement, though, is the biggest deal yet -- the FTC convinced Teladoc-owned BetterHelp, an online therapy service, to pay $7.8M (which needs to be approved by a federal judge) to settle allegations that it shared consumers’ sensitive mental health information with advertisers (like Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest). BetterHelp did not admit wrongdoing and, indeed, denied sharing private information with advertisers in this statement. Nevertheless, the FTC announced that the settlement money (if it is approved) will go into a fund that will grant BetterHelp users a partial refund. The FTC seems to identify with our wolf-like hero in the National Treasure movies who says: “If there’s something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.”

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