Data Privacy in Healthcare: 6 Life Hacks to Safeguard Your Personal Data

A Practical Guide for Students in the Digital Health Era

Through apps, wearable technology, and digitized medical records, digital health is on the rise— empowering patients to take charge of their health in new and efficient ways. 

However, there are legitimate concerns around health data privacy. As university students, it’s crucial to understand the risks and learn how to protect your personal health information. We explore that here.

{A close up of a window with the word ‘DATA’ written on it in dotted pen – Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash}

The Challenges of Digital Data Privacy in Healthcare

With digital health comes the collection of large amounts of personal health data. This includes your medical history and lifestyle habits collected from your GP or from digital health apps. While these resources can be useful, they can also be a potential target for data breaches.

In 2022 alone, healthcare data breaches exposed the information of 30 million individuals. Protecting this information is critical, as its exposure can have far-reaching consequences, including identity theft and misused health records.

6 Hack to Protect Your Health Data

While the US government has put in place regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect the privacy of your health data, they aren’t foolproof, especially when using apps (as opposed to data collected by your medical practitioner). 

Privacy rules have limits, data can be sold, and breaches can and do happen. The good news is, there are proactive steps you can take to protect your personal health data. 

Here are six practical “life hacks” to help ensure data privacy in healthcare, particularly when using health apps:

  1. Be selective: Not all health apps are created equal. Before downloading, review the app’s privacy policy and data usage terms—we know they can be long, but it’s important! If these are difficult to understand or seem to lack strong data protection measures, consider alternatives.
  1. Limit shared information: Only provide necessary information when using health platforms. The less you share, the less risk you run of exposure in a data breach. Be sure to go to your phone settings and turn off any unnecessary permissions.
  1. Regular updates: Software updates often include security enhancements. Keep your apps up-to-date to ensure you have the latest protections.
  1. Two-factor authentication: Where possible, enable two-factor authentication. This extra security layer significantly reduces the chances of unauthorized access to your accounts.
  1. Question the need: Consider carefully the need before using health apps, especially those tracking medication usage. The British Medical Journal suggests such apps could be more prone to selling or sharing data due to their collection of sensitive, high-value information. Calendar alerts or sticky notes may work just as well as a reminder to take medications. 
  1. Advocate for your data rights: Understand your rights under HIPAA and be proactive in exercising them. This includes the right to access and amend your health records and request restrictions on their disclosure.

As digital health continues to advance, so too will the methods to protect personal health data. Still, it’s important for you to take personal responsibility for your digital health data privacy.

By implementing the above tips and remaining vigilant, you can enjoy the benefits of digital health while safeguarding your personal information.

At MomentMD, we are committed to providing secure digital health solutions. Our platform adheres to stringent data privacy standards, and we are dedicated to educating our users about data privacy. Join us as we continue to champion digital health while prioritizing data protection.