FTC cracks down on health tech: 7 things to know

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The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on healthcare technology, according to an Aug. 25 Politico report.

Healthcare's data privacy and monopoly concerns top the FTC's agenda as its chair, Lisa Khan, completes her first two months in the role, according to the report.

Seven things to know

  1. A trial kicked off Aug. 24 examining monopoly concerns in cancer screening technology. At issue is the acquisition of startup biotech firm Grail by genetic sequencing giant Illumina. The case was in the works before Ms. Khan's confirmation, but it showcases that health IT is part of the FTC's agenda, Politico reported.

  2. The way healthcare and tech companies handle sensitive data “is an area that I'm sure [Ms. Khan’s] very, very interested in," said Jessica Rich, former director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau.

  3. The FTC will also closely watch hospital mergers, Ms. Rich said.

  4. "I expect her and the commission to take a very bold approach to what constitutes harm for both," Ms. Rich said. "I expect her to pay close attention to algorithms and potential discrimination in healthcare, both denials and pricing issues which the FTC's laws can address."

  5. COVID-19 expanded the FTC's jurisdiction, giving it authority over nearly the entire healthcare ecosystem. The FTC's competition bureau has the authority to scrutinize healthcare mergers. Its consumer protection division focuses on healthcare privacy and data security issues and challenges fraudulent medical claims. Congress passed the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act in 2020, which granted it the authority to police COVID-19 scams.

  6. Ms. Khan hasn't spoken publicly about her healthcare agenda, but she may start scrutinizing how healthcare and technology companies monetize data collection, as well as how those companies disclose to patients what they are doing with their data, Politico reported.

  7. "We are at a point where there is more of a robust conversation about whether that notice and consent framework is outdated, especially in a world where people sometimes don’t have a choice about whether they are using these technologies," Ms. Khan said.

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