NSA and Your Healthcare Information

Joseph Conn | Modern Healthcare | June 13, 2013

Defense and spy contractor Booz Allen Hamilton is in the news these days, confirming it was the employer of leaker Edward Snowden, who said he worked as an outsourced data analyst for the National Security Agency, the tech arm of the intelligence community, and who recently revealed to multiple media sources that the NSA has been gathering up Americans' phone records and metadata as the “default” position in the war on terror.

More than a decade ago, Dr. William Winkenwerder, a former president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, soon to become the top doc at the Military Health System, made a prediction in his keynote speech at the TEPR conference in Boston.

"I think privacy and security are the Chernobyl that is waiting to happen for the healthcare industry," Winkenwerder said. “The right to privacy is … embedded in our culture. Privacy is going to be our greatest hurdle, and we must protect it in order to succeed."

Snowden has made no mention in his recent revelations that medical records were captured in the NSA's dragnet searches, though medical records have been targeted by the intelligence community in the past, according to two official reports about an earlier domestic surveillance program called Total Information Awareness.