Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is There any Privacy?

Computers are great and they have changed our lives in many positive ways.  People have become so dependent and reliant on computers that most of their personal information is stored in the computer.  I will admit to being paranoid, but I feel like this information can always be found by someone else.  Two areas that I find particularly susceptible to loss of privacy are my health information and my financial information.  Being an Ayurvedic health practitioner, I am focusing on the health issue.

Our society already has a way of doing business that is not about to change anytime soon.  Yet, we always have the ability to be informed and make choices.  Recently, I learned about two health care trends that have the potential to expose personal information.  First, health insurance companies are actively helping physicians switch to electronic records.  Yes, there is a certain efficiency to electronic records, but the health insurance company should not be involved.  This past year I had the experience of having to shop for health insurance without a group.  Let's just say I would not want a health insurance company near my medical records.  They tend to magnify any normal incident and hold you accountable for it for at least five years.  There are special privacy laws in place to protect one's medical history.  However, it is too tempting for a health insurer not to access records when they have a money motivation to keep costs down.  Maybe it is an unusual scenario, but money, corporations and ethics do not always tend to go the way they should.

The second trend is the availability of websites that let you record and download your personal health habits, symptoms and medicine intake.  You can send your records to your doctor.  Again, once the records are put online, they are available for others to view.  It is convenient to record something and have it conveniently stored in the computer.  Plus, keeping a personal journal for health related issues is very helpful for treatment.  It is important, however, to appreciate the potential exposure.  Would a market research firm, life insurance investigator or health insurance company be interested in your personal health journal?  The possibility exists.

I do not have a solution to these potential problems, but it is important to be aware.  It is reasonable to question your doctor about his record security protocol.  Maybe a personal health journal should be hand written and kept with you.  Some people may not have issues with health and privacy.  I just like to be the one making the choice.

Stay healthy & well,

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