In light of the recent recognition that on an almost global basis people's private information is virtually an open book, one can only wonder if the protection of PHI, (Personal Health Information) that HIPAA meant to protect, is illusory. To the extent that emails and other communications meant for designated recipients are analyzed, scraped, aggregated and stored it is in the opinion of this author that the protection of PHI is illusory. Furthermore, internet search history is also used to develop profiles of an unsuspecting public. The fact that Facebook monitors internet activity even when the subscriber is logged off is enough to validate the fear that internet and social media users are subject to a level of privacy intrusion that most of us think is unimaginable.
Health providers - covered entities and their downstream counterparts dealing with PHI - must jump through regulatory hoops regarding the storage of and limitations on the dissemination of information. Apparently, to a large extent this information is already in the hands of numerous social media outlets without any legal restrictions on the aggregation, storage or dissemination of the information which most certainly contains at least part of the medical information that HIPAA and HITECH control.
The sad truth is that the scale and scope of data that is aggregated by various social media portals is staggering. It is reasonable that included in the information available for....click here for the rest of the story