Study: Popular Search Engines Share Search Data About Medical Conditions

Researchers find that popular websites share search data with advertisers and other third parties.

Politico: Health Sites May Be Sharing Search Terms
The National Security Agency is tracking your phone calls. And online snoops may be keeping tabs on your Internet health searches, too. And that includes use of terms such as "depression" or "herpes." A research letter published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine found that seven of 20 widely used health websites are passing on users' searches to third parties. Those sending the information along include widely used free commercial websites like Health.com and Drugs.com, as well as popular news sites like The New York Times and Men's Health Magazine (Norman, 7/8).

Reuters: Some Health Websites Share User Search Terms: Study
Some health media websites share users' search terms with outside companies that track consumers and target advertising, according to a new study. Dr. Marco Huesch, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, used interception software and found seven out of 20 popular health sites passed search information to third parties (Pittman, 7/8).

Also, adoption of electronic health records is on the rise, but they may not always improve efficiency or quality --

Los Angeles Times: More Doctors, Hospitals Use Electronic Over Paper Medical Records
Hospitals are increasingly switching from paper to electronic medical records but aren’t necessarily using them to improve the quality or efficiency of care, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Forty-four percent of hospitals had basic electronic health records in 2012, up from 27 percent the previous year, according to the report. Overall, the number of hospitals using such medical records has tripled since 2010. Some of the biggest jumps occurred in rural hospitals, which increased from 1 in 10 in 2010 to 1 in 3 in 2012 (Gorman, 7/8).

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