Electronic medical records are for sale to any group that can prove they would use it for research, according to a Fortune article on CNNMoney.com. In it, they cite a report by a Texas watchdog publication called the Austin Bulldog that uncovered 100 different buyers between January 2009 and April 2010. Primarily pharmaceutical companies, these entities buy “de-identified” patient data. According to Pam Dixon of the non-profit World Privacy Forum:
Researchers have very broad access rights to health care records under HIPAA…The rules are pretty loose, and there are a lot of ways to get around them.
The very same technology that will one day make patient clinical information widely accessible to health care providers – for the benefit of patients – makes it vulnerable to access by those who have less than altruistic purposes in mind. And many experts say that state governments, which have jurisdiction over this process, often do not have the skilled personnel or resources to ensure the safety of this information.