Our Bodies, Our Data

"Adam Tanner has thoroughly researched how big pharma continues to trample on our medical privacy. This is a terrifying and strongly-argued account of how drug companies collect, analyze, and sell patient data and a must-read for anyone who has ever been to a doctor."

J. Kyle Bass, Chief Investment Officer, Hayman Capital  Management, founder, Coalition for Affordable Drugs  


"Patient data presents both promise and peril. Important public and private interests hang in the balance as consumers, providers, advocates, industry actors, and governments weigh increased transparency, informed consent, privacy issues, and the right to know. In 'Our Bodies, Our Data,' Adam Tanner tangibly advances a vital conversation – adroitly articulating choices that may profoundly shape the future of health and health care."

A. Eugene Washington, M.D. , Chancellor for Health Affairs, Duke University, President and CEO, Duke University Health System


"A disturbing look at the threat to privacy created by the lucrative and growing health care data-mining industry.... Here, he zeroes in on the trade in patient medical information, discovering that an industry dealing in intimate personal information is very closemouthed about its own inner workings. Tanner is a persistent and experienced researcher, however, and the information he gleans paints an alarming picture....A thorough report, carefully researched and well-documented, aimed at both general readers and policymakers." 

Kirkus Reviews


So much for health care confidentiality. Tanner, a former Reuters correspondent who conducted research at Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, begins his thoroughly reported story with this alarming line, "Soon after you tell your doctor about an intimate medical problem, data about your condition are sold commercially to companies that have nothing to do with your treatment or billing." These data miners leave out names and contact details, but they do list age, gender, and conditions that pharmaceutical companies can use to figure out which doctors prescribe which drugs. Originally, scientists thought that programming computers for hospital pharmacies would save lives by preventing patients from getting multiple prescriptions for the same drug and alerting pharmacists about prescriptions that might cause adverse interactions with other medications. Today, digital files are also used to make money and target advertising. Tanner says he wrote this book "hoping to foster debate on how we can best balance the
promise that big data offers to advance medicine and improve lives while also preserving the rights and interests of patients." Mission accomplished.



To date, this market has operated in the shadows. Which makes "Our Bodies, Our Data" an even more impressive read. Based on in-depth research and hundreds of interviews with industry insiders and observers, Adam Tanner takes the reader into the dark corners of this multibillion-dollar global medical data bazaar...."Our Bodies, Our Data" is a riveting account of medical data collectors and buyers gone haywire. It is a must-read for anyone concerned with data protection and privacy policies in the healthcare and consumer sector, as patients or in a professional capacity.

Authentic8 Blog


What Stays in Vegas

"Tanner's book is one of the best business books written this year; in fact, it is one of the best business books in this century....The book is an incredible insight into a world that most of us have never heard of. It's a multi-billion dollar world that tracks our every move and tries to entice us to spend dollars with them or their clients. The people who run these companies really know what they are doing and the technology they implement is impressive and powerful....Companies that track consumer behaviors are one of the most dominant forces in our lives. We need to know something about them. Adam Tanner's book is the way to make that happen." Full review here.

Huffington Post

"As you play poker and eat steak, computers are evaluating your behavior to find out what freebies will make you spend more cash....Mr. Tanner's engaging book is realistic; he knows that this particular genie cannot be stuffed back in the magic lamp. At the same time, he shows how harmful it is when private companies compile electronic dossiers on their clients." Review here.

Marc Levinson, Wall Street Journal

"Tanner argues that the combination of cameras, recording devices, online public data and computing power has not only eroded our basic expectations about personal privacy, it has nibbled at the edges of our civil liberties, too. The book provides an insider’s look at the business of assembling, packaging and reselling data, and it uses glittery Las Vegas to show that kind of information at work." Review here.

Dina Temple-Raston, Washington Post

"Books with sexy titles and decidedly unsexy topics – like, say, data – have a tendency to disappoint. But What Stays in Vegas is an engrossing, story-packed takedown of the data industry....What Stays in Vegas offers a narrative that transforms Big Data from spreadsheet-dull to a racy read people will pay attention to. " Full review here.

Hannah Kuchler in the Financial Times, Sept. 14, 2014

"Data may be to the 21st century economy what oil was to the 20th, a hugely valuable asset essential to economic life and often a source of conflict. This entertaining yet deeply informative book is a great guide to what has, or hasn't, happened and to what lies ahead."

Lawrence Summers, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, & President Emeritus and Charles W.Eliot University Professor of Harvard University

"In Adam Tanner's fast-paced investigative report, What Stays in Vegas , we learn that the great advances of the digital age, access and interconnectedness, also carry great risks. Never before has information about one's identity been more valuable or easier to track for insights-and advantage. As we continue gathering data to unlock the secrets of our pasts and futures, here's what I hope doesn't 'stay in Vegas': the need to read Tanner's book to figure out how to balance the promise of personalization against the threats posed to privacy. It’s much too important a question to leave to a roll of dice."

Henry Louis Gates,Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University

"Cutting through all the vaporous generalities about privacy in the age of big data is no easy task, but Adam Tanner has accomplished just that it in a highly readable and lively exploration of the role private companies play in building unimaginably revealing banks of information about everything we do and everyone we do it with -- and sharing that knowledge with just about everybody except those whose personal lives and choices are at stake. If you thought Edward Snowden's revelations about Big Brother were shocking calls to action, you'll be at least as alarmed -- and energized -- by the fascinating stories Tanner has to tell in his important new book, What Stays In Vegas ."

Laurence Tribe, Carl M.Loeb University Professor and professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University

"In this fascinating look at the dazzling if suffocating domain of digital information gathering, Tanner concludes that it is returning us to a world of farms and villages, where intimate details of everyone’s lives were public knowledge."

KIRKUS starred review, Kirkus

"Among the more alarming points brought up here is that data analysis can extrapolate far more about things like sexual orientation and health conditions than it used to. Mr. Tanner demonstrates how easy it is to find a person’s medical records with only a birth date and a ZIP code."

Janet Maslin, New York Times

"No brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the scope and depth of coverage of material provided in this volume. However, I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it." Review here.

Bob Morris, Blogging on Business

“Although What Stays in Vegas starts with insights gained from casino data, the book is even more interesting when it delves into the occasionally questionable practices of other businesses that use personal data for profit....Ultimately, it seems there will need to be a combination of industry standards and government intervention to be sure that customers can maintain control over their increasingly valuable and available personal data." Read more here.

The Capital Times, 11/20/2014

"What Stays in Vegas is both readable and entertaining, and in a similar manner as Michael Lewis's writings, Tanner provides interesting stories about the people and companies that are now so directly involved in our personal lives." Full review here.

Winnipeg Free Press, Oct. 18, 2014

"What Stays in Vegas shines a light on the value of consumer data,...Books with sexy titles and decidedly unsexy topics — like, say, data — have a tendency to disappoint. But What Stays in Vegas is an engrossing, story-packed takedown of the data industry."

Los Angeles Times, rerunning Financial Times review on 9/28/2014.
The Week Magazine refers to 'storytelling talent' livening up What Stays in Vegas
The Week Magazine, Oct. 3, 2014