By: John Lavey | Hammock President/COO
With all the divisive news out of Washington lately, you might be tempted to think that no other institution has lost more trust in the eyes of Americans than the U.S. Congress. You’d be wrong. There is an institution seen as even less reliable: our medical system.
Paul Keckley, citing the annual Gallup survey of U.S. institutions conducted in June, notes that since 1973, trust in Congress has fallen from 45 percent to 11 percent, a loss of 34 percentage points. In that same time span, trust in the U.S. health system has fallen from 74 percent to 36 percent, a loss of 38 percentage points. This longtime survey shows Americans trust the military and small businesses above all other institutions.
One of the areas our medical system has failed us is in the protection of our private personal health information (PHI). Hackers target medical data because it is so valuable on the darknet, a hidden part of the Internet that is a hotbed of illegal activity. Within its shadowy confines, medical records can sell for as much as $1,000. The only thing more valuable than PHI to a cybercriminal is a passport. In contrast, your credit card information wouldn’t fetch more than $100.
Though we can barely access our records when we want to, cybercriminals are picking off our health information like candy. We surrender our personal information to social media platforms, banks and providers so “they can serve us better.” Apple CEO Tim Cook says customers are catching on to the ruse: “The narrative that some companies will try to get you to believe is: ‘I’ve got to take all of your data to make my service better.’ Well, don’t believe them,” he said. “Whoever’s telling you that, it’s a bunch of bunk.”
The founder of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee is alarmed enough to take action, creating an alternative Internet experience where individuals regain ownership of their data. Berners-Lee launched a startup called InRupt and is developing a platform called Soli that allows users to explore the Internet while owning their own data, including their health records.
Our dissatisfaction as customers with the loss of ownership of our own information is a major force shaping how the medical system will have to interact with patients moving forward.
Takeaway: If angry voters can vote out members of Congress, they can vote no on using a medical provider that doesn’t protect their information—and restore their trust.
Photo: Getty Images
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