Jan 21, 2020

Big Tech's enormous access to patients' health data

It's not just Google — Amazon, IBM and Microsoft have also struck deals with hospitals across the country to gain access to patient data, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: It reveals just how expansive the relationship between tech companies and hospitals has become — and lawmakers have taken notice.

Details: There's no evidence of wrongdoing; hospitals can share patient data as long as they follow federal law.

  • The deals have the potential to yield information and products valuable to patients.
  • For example, Microsoft is partnering with Providence, a large hospital system, to create oncology algorithms using doctor's notes in medical records.

The big picture: "Digitizing patients' medical histories, laboratory results and diagnoses has created a booming market in which tech giants are looking to store and crunch data, with potential for groundbreaking discoveries and lucrative products," WSJ writes.

  • Hospitals can also benefit financially from the deals, some of which include intellectual property rights for the hospitals' contributions to new products.

Go deeper: What your hospital knows about you

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Military hospitals are aggressively going after medical debt

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Add the U.S. government to the list of groups going after patients for thousands of dollars in medical debt, per reporting by The Center for Public Integrity and The Atlantic.

How it works: Civilians can receive care at military hospitals in an emergency or if the military hospital offers superior care.

Go deeperArrowJan 22, 2020

Nonprofit hospitals' charity care disparities

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Nonprofit hospitals that did the best financially provided less charity care relative to their income than their less-well-off peers, according to a new study in JAMA.

The big picture: Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide charity care in exchange for their tax-exempt status, but they're increasingly under fire for their aggressive bill collection practices against low-income patients.

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Health

U.S. hospitals begin preparing for the coronavirus

A health worker at Suizhou Central Hospital in Suizhou, China. Photo: Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua via Getty Images

Even though the risk to Americans remains low, hospitals across the U.S. are making sure they're ready for the coronavirus, STAT reports.

Why it matters: If the virus does spread within the U.S., hospitals being caught flat-footed would be a travesty.

Go deeperArrowFeb 10, 2020 - Health