HIPAA & Health Information
On June 24, the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade. In doing so, it declared that there was no longer a constitutional right to abortion, allowing state police power to determine its legality. Immediately after this decision, trigger laws went into effect across a quarter of the states, making abortions illegal. Post Dobbs, information collected on personal devices, especially through period-tracking and telemedicine apps, is at risk of being exposed and utilized as criminal evidence.
Amanda Scott Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2024 In June 2022, a draft of a bipartisan bicameral bill known as the American Data Privacy and Protection Act was introduced. This bill was proposed as a replacement to current laws to further protect and strengthen federal data privacy and protection regulations. This …
A recent class action lawsuit alleges Meta (the parent company of Facebook) used an illegal tracking tool to retrieve patient information from over 664 hospitals for marketing purposes. Meta and a handful of US-based hospitals have violated privacy laws such as HIPAA that control the means and methods for lawfully handling covered medical information. John Doe filed the case on June 17, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking class action certification for a jury trial to recover compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court finally handed down its long-awaited opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In this decision, the Court set aside nearly 50 years of precedent and unequivocally overruled Roe v. Wade, declaring that there is no Constitutional right to abortion. This decision will unsurprisingly change laws and significantly impact millions of people across the country. Although pro-choice activists have been bracing for this outcome and mobilizing to maintain access to abortions, they have to contend with a consideration that did not exist to the same magnitude the last time that abortion was illegal in the US: anti-abortion laws’ impact on data privacy.
On February 9, a group of senators led by Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana introduced a new bill, the Health Data Use and Privacy Commission Act (the “Act”), in attempt to revitalize current legislation regarding the protection and use of health data. The bill also has the support of a number of representatives from within the healthcare industry, including Epic, IBM, and Teladoc Health, as well as a number of professional associations like the American College of Cardiology, the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, and the Association of Clinical Research Organizations.
Cyberattacks on the healthcare industry have reached a fever pitch. In 2020 alone, there was a drastic increase in healthcare organization cybersecurity breaches. In 2021, the average cost of a healthcare data breach increased by over $2 million to $9.23 million. Healthcare providers continue to be the most targeted industry for cybersecurity breaches, with over ninety-three percent of healthcare organizations experiencing a data breach over the past three years. 306 breaches of unsecured protected health information (“PHI”) impacting 500 or more individuals were reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) in 2020. Yet healthcare organizations continue to be ill-equipped to handle this growing problem.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many aspects of healthcare delivery. Most notably, the pandemic increased the demand for digital health services. Telemedicine saw ten years’ worth of expansion in one year, but it was not the only digital health service that exploded as a result of the pandemic. Telehealth has evolved from merely meeting with a provider via a video conference to include more sophisticated technologies. Remote Patient Monitoring (“RPM”) allows for providers to collect patient data without the patient having to go to a healthcare facility for monitoring. RPM can improve the quality of healthcare delivery by more closely monitoring a patient while also reducing patient volumes within a healthcare setting. In addition, because RPM allows patients to get more care at home, it can largely reduce costs to the patient and the payor while increasing access. Despite the many benefits associated with RPM, there are considerable risks and compliance issues.
Joanna Shea Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2022 A common topic of COVID-adjacent conversation these days is the ‘silver lining’ – unexpected positives resulting from the dark grey cloud that has claimed over half a million lives in the United States. Emergency adaptation measures taken by industries otherwise slow to modernize …
President Joe Biden has issued a number of Executive Orders, many of which address the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. On January 21, 2021, President Biden released another pillar of his Administration’s long-term plan to direct the United States out of the throes of the pandemic. The twelfth Executive Order titled, “Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats” orders the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Secretary Alex Azar to conduct a nationwide review of the interoperability of public health data systems in an effort to enhance the collection, sharing, analysis, and collaboration of de-identified patient data.
It cannot be denied that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many novel legal and regulatory issues. One topic of major concern both domestically and abroad is how to manage the massive amounts of consumer data being collected in the attempt to quell the spread of the virus. This issue is especially complicated to address in the United States, where a convoluted patchwork of state and federal laws interact to create a relentlessly fragmented data regulation system. Now, as state and local governments, along with tech giants like Apple and Google, continue to roll out contact tracing applications, the need for comprehensive data privacy regulation is more pressing than ever.