When Apps Get Your Medical Data, Your Privacy May Go With It

Americans may soon be able to get their medical records through smartphone apps as easily as they order takeout food from Seamless or catch a ride from Lyft.

But prominent medical organizations are warning that patient data-sharing with apps could facilitate invasions of privacy — and they are fighting the change.

The battle stems from landmark medical information-sharing rules that the federal government is now working to complete. The rules will for the first time require health providers to send medical information to third-party apps, like Apple’s Health Records, after a patient has authorized the data exchange. The regulations, proposed this year by the Department of Health and Human Services, are intended to make it easier for people to see their medical records, manage their illnesses and understand their treatment choices.
Yet groups including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warned regulators in May that people who authorized consumer apps to retrieve their medical records could open themselves up to serious data abuses. Federal privacy protections, which limit how health providers and insurers may use and share medical records, no longer apply once patients transfer their data to consumer apps.

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