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Patient data might be the biggest business you’ve never heard of.

As a STAT investigation published Monday revealed, data brokers are quietly trafficking in Americans’ health information — often without their knowledge or consent, and beyond the reach of federal health privacy laws. This market in medical records has become highly lucrative  — $13.5 billion annually —  thanks to advances in artificial intelligence that enable the slicing, dicing, and cross-referencing of that data in powerful new ways.

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