Medical data is only as valuable as the uses it’s put toward. When shared between patients, providers, and payers, data becomes a tool for improving health outcomes and the healthcare experience. But as we gather and use more data, we also create more risk.

Whenever data is transmitted between systems, there’s a chance it could be stolen or corrupted. In the case of healthcare, this possibility can have grave consequences. The theft of someone’s Social Security number can be consequential, but stealing that person’s entire medical history would be a tremendous invasion of privacy with immense potential for exploitation—not to mention a violation of HIPAA laws. And providers realize that a data breach of this sort would expose them to legal liability, negative publicity, and a loss of trust.

Medical information has been strictly protected by HIPAA since 1996 because it needs to be. For most of that time, the priority has been clear: Keep sensitive medical…

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