Medical Data Innovation: Building the Foundations of a Health Information Economy

May 3, 2011

On April 26, 2011, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in IMS Health v. Sorrell, a case that will decide whether state laws that restrict the use of prescriber-identified data violate the First Amendment protections of free speech. This case will have important implications for how health data will be used for medical research, patient education, marketing, and health care reform. Do laws that burden or ban the use of de-identified data for marketing purposes also impede medical research? Under the Constitution, can states that want to regulate the conduct of those who use data do so indirectly by restricting the factual data itself?  What would be the real-world consequences to health care and technological innovation if the laws restricting or banning particular data sets survive Constitutional scrutiny? What privacy angles should be considered?  And more broadly, is de-identified medical data a public good or private property? These are important questions that policymakers will face as government and industry invest billions of dollars in health information technology. ITIF presents a discussion about how de-identified medical data is used today and how policy can help create opportunities to promote data-driven medical innovations.