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Data Mining Reportedly Going on to Recruit the Sick

In the wake of NSA, Target data breaches, medical records compromised and other privacy invasions comes word that some health care companies are probing available information on patients in order to target them for telemarketing and direct mail pitches.The Wall Street Journal reported ("Data Mining to Recruit Sick People," Dec. 17, 2013) that companies specializing in patient recruitment for clinical trials are now turning to pharmaceutical records, data brokers and social networks to identify qualities about each person that may make them prime for what they’re selling. For example, the story by reporter Joseph Walker talks about how Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide, a drug industry contractor based in Northbrook, IL, who found patients for an obesity drug by targeting people with characteristics of a sedentary lifestyle – like subscribing to premium cable tv and frequent fast-food dining.Although HIPPA bars doctors, insurers and other health care providers from sharing, selling or disclosing personally identifiable information in patients’ medical records without the person’s permission, there are clues that are searchable outside of one’s records that the law doesn’t protect – such as credit card purchases and Internet searches that can be tracked.Privacy certainly is a frontier that has yet to be tackled.

Privacy Policy | Business Development Solutions by FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business.