Amazon Clinic will offer online healthcare, but will patients’ data be protected?
In the U.S., the cost of healthcare is a major hurdle for countless people in terms of getting the care they need. Whether it’s individuals who don’t have insurance or do have insurance but still can’t afford their treatment, there is a serious healthcare cost crisis going on – and no easy answers are in sight. One potential option for some people is Amazon Clinic, which promises to present patients with cheaper access to healthcare. While that sounds great at the start, there are some points of concern that might give potential patients second thoughts before they get started. Specifically, those who are concerned with personal privacy might have some hesitation about what Amazon will know about them once they start to use the Amazon Clinic services.
To start with the positive, it is easy to see the appeal in what is being offered here. By using Amazon Clinic, patients can potentially enjoy easy access to a clinician who will be able to perform a variety of tasks, including prescribing medication. The healthcare provider that works with the patient won’t be an Amazon employee, but rather a third-party.
If this setup is able to connect people to care providers in a convenient and affordable manner, that is certainly something of note. It’s better for more patients to receive care than less, and if this is even a small step in the direction of more access to healthcare, many will see it as a win.
The primary concern in the minds of some people regarding Amazon Clinic is the way private information will be handled throughout the process. As this is a healthcare situation, a patient file will be shared with Amazon, and then on to the actual provider. Also, other demographic information and payment information will be available to Amazon.
As it is not Amazon that is providing the actual care, HIPAA regulations may apply differently to their situation. That means, it’s possible that some of sensitive information won’t be covered by HIPAA, which could mean it is more likely to be distributed to other parties. It’s not exactly clear how your information will be used, but those who take privacy seriously are sure to have plenty of questions.
Once you grant permission to Amazon to access some of this personal information, you won’t have an easy time reversing that choice. Taking back authorization can’t be done online at this time, so fax or mail are the only options.
It’s up to each individual to decide what personal information they are comfortable sharing. Do the potential privacy issues that come with using Amazon Clinic outweigh the potential convenience and affordability? No one can say for sure one way or another, because everyone views their privacy a little differently. It’s yet to be seen how popular this service will become, and in the end, the popularity of it will have the final say on how patients feel about privacy concerns.