Three of these companies already know everything about you. They could probably predict your actual health based on your purchasing and browsing habits. The fourth? They will be able to reconcile that prediction against your actual healthcare record, because it’s on their servers. Every major healthcare vendor in the country is going to be paying Surescripts for the privilege of accessing your Personal Health Information (PHI).
Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill in the coming months, companies are going to be vying for your data. Your doctor is going to be courted, because he or she is the gatekeeper to you. They have the power to persuade you to allow them access to your “de-identified” data.
Have you ever had a gmail account? It’s free, it’s email, it’s from Google. When you login to your browser-based inbox, have you ever noticed the ads at the top of your inbox? Here is one from mine:
Apparently, I need new work clothes… They are mining my data (and yours, and everyone elses). It’s de-identified, meaning they remove any information that could identify me as a person, like name, phone number, etc. They only look at data that it useful to them. What I buy. What email confirmations I get. What I sign up for. What music I listen to. What videos I watch. What I eat. Where I go on vacation. When I go on vacation. What Airline I fly. What credit card I use. What bank I use. You know; de-identified, clearly useless information that could never be used against me. We all make this choice, every day, every time we use Google or Yahoo, or MSN, or check Facebook or Twitter. It’s a part of life, and unless you are planning to move the jungles of Peru in the near future, you’ve already made your peace with it, as I have. If you can get over the weirdness of your phone knowing you better than your own mother, it’s actually kind of nice having recommendations for exactly the stuff I was looking for. My wife has actually changed our account name at Amazon to “Awesome Parents”. Now it’s extra fun getting email notifications that our order is on the way.
“Awesome Parents, your order of Barbie and the Secret Garden DVD is on it’s way.” “Awesome Parents, perhaps you would enjoy this new book from Tim Ferris.” I like that Amazon, at least, acknowledges that we are Awesome Parents.
Back to our story.
Surescripts would like to house your healthcare record. What is in your healthcare record? Your blood-pressure. Every time you had a doctor visit in the last ten years. The operation report for your hernia repair. The flu shot last February. Your weight, every time you had a doctor visit in the last ten years.
And now, your fitbit stats. Your Nike+ workout stats. Your Headspace meditation practice. Your glucometer data that you track with Glucose Companion. Your resting heart rate, thanks to your wearable tech like your Apple Watch.
Everything that defines your health, now synchronized with your physicians reports, your annual checkup, your medication, everything. Everything.
If you had that information, that mountain of data, what would you do with it? Do you think it’s worth anything? Do you think anybody would pay for that data? Do you think anybody would pay for the trends contained in the data of millions of Americans lives?