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Epic Systems Severs Ties with Particle Health Over Unauthorized Data Use

Epic Systems cuts ties with Particle Health over unauthorized patient data use, impacting access to 300 million records.

By Jack Wilson

4/12, 18:02 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Epic Systems cuts ties with Particle Health for unauthorized patient data use, affecting access to 300+ million records.
  • The dispute, first of its kind to reach this stage in Carequality's network, raises significant data privacy and HIPAA concerns.
  • Legal landscape shifts focus on protecting health information amid rising misuse risks post-Roe v. Wade overturn.

Data Privacy Concerns

Epic Systems, a leading provider of medical records software, has raised concerns about the unauthorized use of patient data by Particle Health, a venture-backed startup. Epic, which manages a system encompassing over 300 million patient records, has severed its connection with Particle, citing unethical practices that diverge from patient treatment purposes. This move impacts Particle's access to a vast network of health records through Carequality, an interoperability network facilitating the exchange of patient data among healthcare providers. Epic's action follows observations of anomalies in data exchange patterns, suggesting non-treatment related use of patient information, potentially violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Industry Response

In response to Epic's concerns, Carequality, the network through which Epic and Particle exchanged data, stated its commitment to maintaining the integrity of its dispute resolution process and the trusted exchange framework. However, Carequality has refrained from commenting on specific disputes or member activities. Epic's decision to disconnect from Particle was based on a formal dispute filed with Carequality, highlighting potential security and privacy risks, including HIPAA violations. This dispute marks a significant moment in the network's history, being the first to advance to this stage.

Stakeholder Perspectives

Michael Marchant, director of interoperability and innovation at University of California Davis Health and chair of Epic’s Governing Council, expressed concerns over the potential misuse of patient data for non-treatment purposes, emphasizing the importance of responsible data handling. Meanwhile, Particle founder Troy Bannister defended his company's actions on LinkedIn, asserting that all affected partners support treatment and share data back with the Carequality network. Bannister criticized Epic's unilateral decision to disconnect providers, arguing it jeopardizes clinical operations for numerous patients and undermines trust in data exchange.

Legal and Regulatory Landscape

The dispute between Epic and Particle highlights broader issues surrounding data privacy, especially in light of recent legal developments and proposals aimed at protecting sensitive health information. The overturning of Roe v. Wade has intensified concerns over the use of health data in prosecuting individuals seeking abortions or experiencing pregnancy loss. While HIPAA offers some protections, gaps remain, particularly with data not covered by the act, such as information collected by technology companies and crisis pregnancy centers. Proposed legislation, including the My Body, My Data Act and the Health and Location Data Protection Act, seeks to address these gaps by regulating the collection and sale of reproductive health and location data.

Management Quotes

  • Michael Marchant, Director of Interoperability and Innovation at University of California Davis Health:

    "If they were selling to things that they knew we’re not treatment-related organizations in an effort to match VC funding or profit margins or revenue targets or what have you, then that would be really bad."

  • Troy Bannister, Founder of Particle:

    "Epic acted unilaterally, and that Particle has not seen 'rationale, justification or official claims' surrounding these issues... all of the affected partners directly support treatment."