Working smarter, not harder: Can being engaged in our health care data help pay off our loans?

Recently I had a combination of epiphanies that catapulted my thought process on how I could start making money off my health care data. Two things happened around the same time:

1. Many of my friends were getting their DNA tested by sites like 23andMe, Ancestry, and MyHeritage.

2. I was looking for a new job in the healthcare technology field and had to get a pre-employment drug screening.

What about these two things spurred this thought? When I got screened at the lab for the drug test, I received a receipt stating the employer would cover the $38 cost for the screening if the test was negative for all substances. When I asked my friends how much the DNA test cost they all seemed to say it was inexpensive, somewhere between $25 — $100. The wheel in my head started to turn, how could something like a drug test cost half if not more than testing someone’s genetic make-up? I can go to Walmart and buy an at home drug test that will be almost as accurate as the labs’ so what was the catch? How were these DNA companies affording to test DNA at a low cost, considering no insurance is used and you get to keep the test results, unlike the drug test where you don’t even get a copy of the results and wait patiently for the company to call with a start date or to say you failed because of that recent weekend in Vegas.

The answer? After some in depth reading of multiple company’s privacy statements, in short, these companies are gathering your data, throwing a few fancy sentences into their privacy policies that allow them to de-identify you and sell your information. When you agree to their terms of use you are electronically signing that you consent to these terms. An example can be found here under “Information we share with third parties” directly from 23andMe’s website. So, if these DNA testing sites are acting as the “middle man” making money by selling my de-identified information to marketing companies, advertising agencies, research agencies and selling my web behavior using tracking technology, why can’t I cut them out? Well we can, but companies have been profiting off our unawareness.

That’s where a company like Timicoin/TimiHealth and their platform TimiDNA comes in. TimiHealth is a blockchain that is aiming to tokenize health data. This is intriguing to someone like me that is interested in testing my DNA, but also struggling with a high cost of living, student loan debt, a car payment and a taste for food that doesn’t come in a microwavable packet. If I were to utilize a platform like TimiDNA I could not only find out my genetic makeup but take it a step further and control who accesses my data, who buys my data (directly from me), as well as keep it completely private, if I wanted to. This not only applies to my DNA testing but TimiHealth aims to tokenize all health data, in turn allowing the individual to become the owner of their health data, not the health care provider, not the insurance provider.

Work smarter, not harder. There seem to be many things from our parents and grandparents’ generations that are sun-setting; shoulder pads in suits and dresses, the 40-hour work week, and hopefully the archaic health care system where patients are often overcharged, under-informed and un-engaged. If we engage ourselves, cut out the middle men and take control of our own health, our own data, we can most likely change the outcome of our futures. I don’t know about you, but I intend to turn this information into opportunity and catch this new sun-rise of technology.

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