Who Owns My Data?


We, as physicians, have had our data taken from us, used against us, and used to sell to us for years.  I have had drug reps show me my prescription habits in certain medication classes!   This was info bought by the pharmaceutical company from a pharmacy.  I know that the future of “Big Data” means every one and their uncle is taking information about me and my care of patients and playing with it.  They are then selling it or using it to screw me (insurance companies) or for a myriad of other reasons I probably don’t know about.  The question is, who owns my data?  I don’t remember signing off on anything.   I don’t remember allowing the EMR system to give my stuff away.  Does anyone out there know the answer to this question?  Because if we, as doctors, still own it then why are we giving it away?

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  9 comments for “Who Owns My Data?

  1. May 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

    When Alteer (our prior EMR) quit working after numerous patches and re-writes to make MU-1, we had to jump ship (after 2 years in transition, we are now very happy on AmazingCharts). Alteer held our EMR data hostage at a price of 20k! (after paying a lawyer 3k, we were able to get a crappy HTML viewer of our patient charts from Alteer – now CompuGroupMedical). 10 years ago, my partner and I signed the boiler-plate agreement with Alteer which stipulated that they can charge 20k for our patient data if we leave them. Mea culpa, but who knew? Who is looking out for the physicians in this dog-eat-dog world of fragmenting resources and parasitic feeding off the heathcare interaction between patient and professional?

  2. Dr Bonz
    May 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    How about this one……… http://youtu.be/uOk0vOup4yA

  3. Stella Fitzgibbons MD
    May 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Wait till you get a call from your service chief at the hospital, wanting to talk about the “dashboard” the computer spat out regarding price per patient and length of stay stats on you & comparable physicians. Don’t even bother pointing out that the unassigned patients from the ER tend to have more medical problems and less preventive care–all the administrators want from you is for the numbers to look better.

  4. Pat
    May 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Physicians have data-mined themselves from med school on. We’re conditioned by myriad boards, certifications/maintenance, hospital privilege requests, insurance and Medicare credentialings, Medicaid fingerprintings, annual re-licensures, and certainly some other requested colonoscopies that I’ve forgotten. That outside interests should treat a pre-conditioned populace as badly as we have accepted our entire professional lives is not really surprising. Society by and large believes that they own doctors, and that includes Big Pharma/Insurance/.Gov. We have traded our personal and professional autonomy for the ability to work.

  5. Chris Rhody
    May 7, 2014 at 9:09 am

    You should actually read some of the laws that allow this. You barely own yourself. Technically, it belongs to the individual patients. Who probably agreed to it when they signed the required statement to get their meds. As in give us your data or we don’t do business with you. It’s the loyalty card trick. Even if you pay cash you still give your data away for free. Tell them you want money for that data and watch how fast management shows up. I think we need to push for disclosure of just how much is paid for this data.

  6. V N
    May 7, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Depending on what it is, the patient owns it. You really don’t think that the push to automate everything is truly to help the patient? It is to help big pharma and big hospitals control.

  7. Steve Roberts
    May 7, 2014 at 7:15 am

    I wonder how much the AMA gets for selling it’s mailing list to all those companies whose junk mail fills my real and virtual mailboxes.

    • RB
      May 7, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Speaking of junk mail… The AMA is the worst junk mailer! I’m so sick of getting “dues statements”! One of these days my wife will think its a bill and pay it. I’ve never been an AMA member and never will. It also drives me crazy that the media immediately gets their opinion on anything medically related as if they represent all physicians. They do not represent me!

  8. Jay Cooperman
    May 7, 2014 at 6:40 am

    In the spirit of the law, you are obviously right, Doug. But in the letter of the law, which is all that matters in court, you probably checked a little box somewhere that said “I agree” in order to get the system up and running. And HIPPA probably won’t help, since its “aggregated data.” Brave New World…

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