An American diversified health care benefits company, Aetna Inc., has enlarged the range of offered services with a Web-based search site, where every customer can now find information about diseases, treatment, medical costs and even data on local doctors and health records.
The search site called Aetna 's SmartSource provides information about gender, age, ZIP code, employer, health care plan and information from the customer's personal health records.
The creators used Healthline Networks, a health search engine, as the technology platform for Aetna's search engine.
This year the pilot version will be available only to 20 and 25 employers with up to 1.5 million eligible employees. But the company promises that next year it’ll increase the number of customers.
In spite of the obvious profitability and efficacy of the system the question of its safety remains dubious. The experts assure that information is secure, while privacy advocates cast doubts upon the whole situation.
- the site is encrypted the same way as the banking industry;
- insurance customers are protected by many safeguards, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and state privacy laws.
- it's not clear if HIPAA covers companies that store electronic records;
- what is going to be with customers? Should they be notified when their health information is transferred?