Health Care Product Managers Deal With Privacy Issues

Product managers have to deal with patient data privacy laws
Product managers have to deal with patient data privacy laws
Image Credit: Stock Catalog

Every product manager wants to be in charge of a product that customers want. However, it turns out that some of us have to deal with situations in which our customers want what we have, but they are also afraid to give us what we need in order to deliver our product to them. A great example of this happening in the health care market. Customers are very aware of the data privacy issues and so they are hesitant to use the health care products that the product managers are providing them with.

The Challenge Poised By Health Data

Most consumers have a lot of health care data. It’s just that it is spread all over the place – at hospitals, in different doctor’s offices, and even in insurance claims that have been filed. A number of different companies have come to the realization that all of this health care data is out there and they want to help bring it all together into one place. As you can well imagine, this is opening up a whole host of data privacy and control questions.

Product managers at these companies are in the process of introducing online products that customers can use to bring together their health data that is currently being stored in a number of different locations. The goal of these products is to allow customers to consolidate their health care information such as diagnostics and lab results in a way that will allow the customer to access it easily via either their smartphones or their computers.

There are some significant issues that these product managers are facing. The data that their products need is both highly personal and potentially very valuable to companies such as drug makers. Currently, the Federal health privacy law which is known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) places requirements on companies to protect a customer’s health care data. This law applies to physicians and health-care companies. This includes hospitals and insurers and any third parties who work for them.

The Privacy Issue

However, things may be changing in the health care data market. When a tech firm gets health care data directly from a customer, they may not be subject to the HIPPA rules. Note that this may include when a tech firm gets customer health care data from a doctor or a hospital on the customer’s behalf. Instead, these firms and their product managers are being regulated by the Federal Trade Commission who tends to focus on whether or not companies are abiding by their own privacy policies.

A key point that these product managers are going to have to deal with is that most customers believe that all of their health information is covered under HIPPA. It turns out that it isn’t. What is going to have to happen is that product managers who work for technology companies that are not regulated by HIPPA are going to have to say that they use their customer’s health data only with their permission. A big question is just exactly how much detail a customer should get. Additionally, many product managers believe that customers are going to want to have complete control over their personal data including getting paid if the data is ever sold.

The products that the product managers are in the process of introducing will pull customer health data from multiple health-care providers. The products will focus on seven different areas of health including allergies and prescriptions. Data will also be pulled from lab companies. Customers will be able to access their data though both an app and a website. The goal of these products is to allow customers to link in the different sources of their health-care information that is relevant to their personal care while providing meaning and context to their information.

What All Of This Means For You

Health care is a huge market and to be a product manager who works in this area means that you might be responsible for a very popular product. However, in this age in which we are living, customers are very aware that their personal health-care data is a valuable resource that many different people would like to get their hands on. This is why customers are often not willing to share it – even with product managers who have health-care products. How best to deal with this issue?

Customers have a lot of health-care data that is distributed over many different providers. Product managers want to bring all of this data together and allow customers to manage it. These online products would pull data from many different sources and allow customers to access it via their computers and smartphones. Customer health care data has traditionally been protected by the HIPP laws. However, if customers give their data to tech firms, it may not be protected by HIPPA. Product managers are going to have to treat customer health-care data very carefully and make sure that customers have complete control over it. The goal of these products is going to be to provide customers with complete control over their health-care data.

It sure seems as though customers would like to have more access to and control over their personal health-care information. However, this is an area that is fraught with danger. If the product managers somehow make a mistake and customers start to believe that their data is being used in ways that they don’t approve of, then these new health-care products could quickly fail. These product managers have a tough task ahead of them if they want to make their products produce a healthy return!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How can health-care data product managers convince their customers that their data is safe with them?

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