Private patient info shared widely, MPs not informed


Since the beginning of this year, health insurers, hospitals and mental health groups have been sharing information about their customers’ health in a massive database which can be accessed by commercial companies.

Doctors have told the Volkskrant they are concerned that patients have no say about their information being used in this way and that there are implications for patient privacy.

They are particularly worried that the information could lead to risk profiling and some social groups facing discrimination.

Currently health insurers collect data about their clients’ health because they pay hospital and pharmacy bills. This information is provided to a company known as Vektis, which analyses the information for research purposes.

Information broker

But since January this information is being provided to an ‘information broker’ who can pass this on to Vektis, individual insurance companies, the health insurer association and the national health council. In addition, hospital and clinic information is also now being included in the mix.

‘Patients have no choice,’ health law professor Jos Dute told the paper. ‘Their bills are being used for other purposes than simple payments.’

The Dutch privacy watchdog has already warned that this pool of information is creating a ‘very risky database’ because of the sensitivity of the information it contains.

MPs have criticised health minister Edith Schippers for not briefing parliament on the changes.

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