81% of Americans unaware digital health apps can sell personal data

Eighty-one percent of Americans inaccurately assume that all health data protected on digital health platforms are also protected under HIPAA, according to a July 13 report from ClearDATA, a healthcare-specific managed cloud, compliance and security services provider.

ClearDATA commissioned the Harris Poll to survey more than 2,000 adults from May 24-26 to reveal how informed Americans are when it comes to the protection of their health data.

Here are some things to know, according to the report:

  • Eighty-one percent of Americans assume that digital health apps protect all collected health data under HIPAA. Personal data is only protected under HIPAA within the boundaries of "covered health entities" such as hospitals or physician's offices. Digital health apps can buy and sell collected data on the open market.
  • Fifty-eight percent of Americans have not questioned whether their protected information is being shared on digital health apps. Security is not the main issue of concern, as only 27 percent of Americans report privacy and security is one of the three most important factors when seeking care. 
  • The top three factors when choosing where to seek care depends on insurance, in-person care and speed of receiving care. Sixty-eight percent report whether their insurance is accepted as a top factor. Forty-nine percent report the option for face-to-face care, and 41 percent report a quick process for booking an appointment or receiving medication to be a top factor.
  • Valuing convenience over security is more common among the younger population. Fifty-four percent of Americans ages 18-34 placed a greater concern for convenience over privacy and security, with 60 percent saying they would willingly use a digital health app that shares their data for marketing purposes. However, 69 percent of Americans ages 65 and up placed a greater value on the security of their health information, with only 17 percent saying they would use an app that shares their data for marketing purposes.

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