CVS-IBM Partnership Attempts to Use Patient Data to Predict Health Outcomes
Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom Says Sharing of Data Among Many Puts Patients’ Privacy and Freedom at Risk
ST. PAUL, Minn.—What’s the harm in a nationwide pharmacy chain and a giant computer company teaming up in the name of health? For patients, it means privacy intrusion and health care decisions potentially being taken out of their own hands.
One privacy-focused health policy organization says a new partnership between CVS Health and IBM that will aim to better predict the deteriorating health of customers through analytics is intrusive to patients and will, in the long run, compromise care.
Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, http://www.cchfreedom.org), a national organization dedicated to preserving patient-centered health care and protecting patient and privacy rights, says the growing trend of analyzing patient data in the health care industry treats patients as pawns in the insurance game, all under the guise of keeping them healthy. But in actuality, multi-million-dollar companies are trying to save money while seeking to comply with Obamacare regulations that shift the practitioner’s focus from treating illnesses to keeping patients from ever getting sick.
“The reality is that partnerships like these open the door to patient data being shared by many, simply for the practice of keeping tabs on their behaviors and influencing patient health insurance, coverage and care decisions,” Brase said. “In short, these types of programs that link data from a pharmacy or online patient hub make it possible for organizations to infiltrate our lives, provide suggestions on how we live, and, ultimately, even make demands about how we care for ourselves.”
According to a report by Forbes.com, IBM’s Watson, the computer giant’s artificial intelligence system, hopes to “bring better care coordination and more personalized care to CVS customers and employer clients. The effort will better identify patients who may be at risk for bad health outcomes, the companies say.”
Brase said one ramification of partnerships like these is having fitness tracker data, as well as data on the date and time patients pick up their medications—or fail to do so—potentially shared with insurance companies.
“Imagine getting a call or email stating, ‘We’ve noticed from your fitness tracker that your activity level has dropped and that your caloric intake has increased. We have suggestions for ways to improve those levels, and therefore, keep your insurance premium at its current rate,’” Brase said. “It seems out of the realm of possibility that the private data we enter into a variety of mechanisms could affect our lives this way, but it’s entirely possible when our personal information is shared without our express consent among multiple entities that all want to benefit from it.”
Forbes further stated in its report, “health care companies are trying to provide doctors with fast and simple access to health information via electronic medical records and claims data from pharmacies and insurers. It’s also an important development as the health care industry shifts from fee-for-service medicine to value-based reimbursement that bases doctor and hospital pay on outcomes and the health of the patient.”
“We are rounding a dangerous curve when what we do in our private lives may determine how a doctor or hospital will be reimbursed in accordance with government regulations and payment initiatives based on whether patients are kept healthy instead of on treating them when they’re sick,” Brase said.
Brase added that even when these partners cite a goal of predicting a patient’s declining health so health professionals can design a plan to keep them healthy and engaged, the infiltration of patients’ private health data—oftentimes when they are unaware with whom they’re sharing it—puts both privacy and patient freedom at risk.
For more information about CCHF and its “5C” Solution for Health Care, visit its web site at http://www.cchfreedom.org, its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cchfreedom or its Twitter feed, @CCHFreedom.
Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, a patient-centered national health freedom organization based in St. Paul, Minn., exists to protect health care choices and patient privacy. CCHF sponsors the daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which airs on approximately 350 stations nationwide, including 200 on the American Family Radio Network and 100 on the Bott Radio Network. Listeners can learn more about the agenda behind health care initiatives and steps they can take to protect their health care choices, rights and privacy.
CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase, R.N., has been called one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Health Care” and one of “Minnesota’s 100 Most Influential Health Care Leaders.” A public health nurse, Brase has been interviewed by CNN, Fox News, Minnesota Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, NBC’s Today Show, NPR, New York Public Radio, the Associated Press, Modern Healthcare, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Washington Times, among others. She is at the forefront of informing the public of crucial health issues, such as intrusive wellness and prevention initiatives in Obamacare, patient privacy, informed consent, the dangers of “evidence-based medicine” and the implications of state and federal health care reform.