Federal Judge Orders WebMD to Continue Sharing Data with Quintiles
A federal judge last week upheld a temporary injunction that orders WebMD to continue to send health insurance claim data to Quintiles Transnational Corp. while the two companies work to resolve WebMD's concerns about patient privacy, the Wall Street Journal reports. The two firms signed a data-sharing agreement last year as part of the terms of WebMD's acquisition of Quintiles's Envoy Corp., an electronic health claims processor. Quintiles "repackages" the data for sale to drug companies and other clients (Wall Street Journal, 3/19). However, last month WebMD halted the flow of data to Quintiles after concluding that some of the data, when combined with other databases, could be used to identify a specific person, a violation of some state privacy laws. Quintiles subsequently obtained a temporary restraining order to force WebMD to resume providing the information (California Healthline, 3/2). The two companies already have agreed to some revisions in the way data is provided. For example, WebMD now sends information with two-or three-digit ZIP codes instead of five, and birth date information now includes only the month and year. Further court action on the case has not been scheduled (Wall Street Journal, 3/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.