Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Category Archives: Medicine

Office of Civil Rights Issues Guidance on HIPAA Compliant Use of Meta Pixels

ABA: “A Meta Pixel is a code embedded in websites that tracks users’ online activities and sends such activities as discrete packets of user data to Meta, the parent company of Facebook. The Meta Pixel can track “users as they navigate through a website, logging which pages they visit, which buttons they click, and certain information they enter into forms.” In return for embedding the Pixel in a website, a website owner is provided with analytics about advertisement and tools to better target website visitors. Meta can couple the data provided via the Pixel with its own database of Facebook users to re-identify users, provide targeted ads based on health conditions, or to sell the data on to third-party advertisers. Meta Pixels, and cookies in general, are broadly used by many companies on a variety of websites. The Markup Investigation Spotlights Meta Pixels Embedded in U.S. Hospital Websites – In June 2022, the use of Meta Pixels specifically in U.S. hospital websites came to the public’s attention because of the Markup’s investigative article. The Markup, a technology-focused investigative news organization, collaborated with Mozilla, a non-profit web browser organization, to launch a study of the prevalence of Meta Pixel embedded in websites and the extent to which users are quietly tracked across the internet from January to July 2022. The study, titled “Pixel Hunt,” was motivated by the organizations’ desire to fully understand the scope of the Pixel’s use and how and where the Meta Pixel is tracking web users. In addition, the Markup tested the websites of the Newsweek’s top 100 hospitals in America and discovered 33 of the hospital websites contained Meta Pixel. The Markup’s investigation revealed patients’ IP address, doctor’s name, and associated medical conditions were disclosed to Meta via data packets when patients made a doctor’s appointment. Meta Pixel was also found embedded in user-authentication webpages, which are areas of websites that can only be accessed after logging in. The Markup set up a test account on a hospital’s patient portal and found information, such as sexual orientation and medication usage, were disclosed to Meta via the Pixel. Since the Markup’s investigation, 28 of the 33 hospital websites removed the Meta Pixel from their websites. Additionally, several hospitals that used Meta Pixel reported data breaches, citing the use of the Pixel for the data breach, to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)…”

The Worst Covid Strategy Was Not Picking One

Bloomberg: The lessons of the pandemic are clearer in a global comparison. Three years after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 to be a pandemic, we finally have reason to celebrate: Global deaths from the virus have dipped below 1,000 people per day for the first time since March 2020. But with almost 7 million… Continue Reading

Yet Another Problem With Recycling: It Spews Microplastics

Wired – “Recycling was already a mess. Now a study finds that one facility may emit 3 million pounds of microplastics a year. The plastics industry has long hyped recycling, even though it is well aware that it’s been a failure. Worldwide, only 9 percent of plastic waste actually gets recycled. In the United States, the rate… Continue Reading

Mifepristone is under scrutiny in the courts, but it has been used safely and effectively around the world for decades

Via LLRX – Mifepristone is under scrutiny in the courts, but it has been used safely and effectively around the world for decades – A flurry of court rulings in April 2023 has left the future of the abortion pill mifepristone in question. For now, a U.S. Supreme Court decision on April 21 allows the drug… Continue Reading

Lessons from the Covid War: An Investigative Report Paperback

“What went right and wrong in our nation’s response to the pandemic? What can we do to avoid the next one? In Lessons from the Covid War: An Investigative Report, the nonpartisan Covid Crisis Group offers crucial recommendations to prepare for the inevitable next public health crisis. The Covid Crisis Group—led by UVA history professor Philip Zelikow, the… Continue Reading

WHO releases the largest global collection of health inequality data

“Today, WHO is launching the Health Inequality Data Repository, the most comprehensive global collection of publicly available disaggregated data and evidence on population health and its determinants. The repository allows for tracking health inequalities across population groups and over time, by breaking down data according to group characteristics, ranging from education level to ethnicity. The… Continue Reading

Long COVID Is Being Erased—Again

The Atlantic: “…Most Americans simply aren’t thinking about COVID with the same acuity they once did; the White House long ago zeroed in on hospitalizations and deaths as the measures to worry most about. And what was once outright denial of long COVID’s existence has morphed into something subtler: a creeping conviction, seeded by academics… Continue Reading

HHS Making Ownership Data for All Medicare-Certified Hospice and Home Health Agencies Publicly Available

CMS – “The Biden-Harris Administration has made promoting competition and protecting consumers a top priority. Today, in support of the President’s Executive Order on promoting competition and the Administration’s commitment to transparency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing ownership data for all Medicare-certified hospice and home health agencies. For the… Continue Reading

GPT-4 will hunt for trends in medical records thanks to Microsoft and Epic

ars technica – Generative AI promises to streamline health care, but critics say not so fast. “On Monday [April 17, 2023], Microsoft and Epic Systems announced that they are bringing OpenAI’s GPT-4 AI language model into health care for use in drafting message responses from health care workers to patients and for use in analyzing… Continue Reading

Primer – Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law

The Alan Turing Institute and the Council of Europe: Primer – Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law: “…It is a remarkable fact that rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven technologies over the last two decades have placed contemporary society at a pivot-point in deciding what shape the future of… Continue Reading