The Privacy Delusions Of Genetic Testing

  • Forbes | by: Peter J. Pitts |
  • 02/15/2017
Genetic testing promises a revolution in healthcare. With just a few swabs of saliva, diagnostics can provide an unprecedented look into a person's family history and potential health risks.

Within a decade, global sales of genetic tests are expected to hit $10 billion. Direct-to-consumer companies such as 23andMe and Genos have proven particularly popular, with tens of thousands of people purchasing at-home testing kits every year.

But the industry's rapid growth rests on a dangerous delusion: that genetic data is kept private. Most people assume this sensitive information simply sits in a secure database, protected from hacks and misuse.

Far from it. Genetic-testing companies cannot guarantee privacy. And many are actively selling user data to outside parties.

The problem starts with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a 1996 federal law that allows medical companies to share and sell patient data if it has been "anonymized," or scrubbed of any obvious identifying characteristics.

 
Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter

RECENT NEWS

A high-stakes exam for healthcare leadership

A high-stakes exam for healthcare leadership

The blueprint and request for information make it clear that the healthcare status quo is no longer acceptable....  Read more

President Trump attacks symptom, not disease, in prescription drug price attack

President Trump attacks symptom, not disease, in prescription drug price attack

While it may be politically popular to blame drug prices for skyrocketing insurance costs, the president's claim doesn't ...  Read more

'It's the health care ecosystem, Stupid'

'It's the health care ecosystem, Stupid'

It’s high time we focused on the questionable practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers....  Read more

DRUGWONKS BLOG