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In on the Action

Patients may one day make money by providing their medical data for research, NPR reports.

Medical data, it notes, is a big business as that information can fuel the development of new products and companies. Currently, hospitals and health plans can use the medical data they have — and, in the US, medical providers typically own the data in medical records, not the patients — for research or to improve "healthcare operations."

"If [a doctor is] trying to use your information in order to develop a product that he can then sell and make millions of dollars off of, that might not be a 'healthcare operation,'" Jodi Daniel, an attorney at Crowell & Moring, who helped write the federal law, tells NPR. "But there isn't a clear interpretation at this point."

But, NPR reports, some companies want to change that approach. wants to make it so that people's medical data is their own legal property and that they can specify how they want it — or don't want it — to be used. Companies would then pay an access fee to patients and

"The data absolutely has a fair value," Michael DePalma, the company's founder and president, tells NPR. "It's a $60 billion business right now, just in medical data, right? So why should we not have some component of that?"