Is your hospital the new Google?

A growing number of hospitals are using their patients' health and financial records to help pitch their most lucrative services, such as cancer, heart and orthopedic care. Hospitals say they are promoting needed services, such as cancer screenings and cholesterol tests, but they often use the data to target patients with private health insurance, which typically pay higher rates than government coverage. Most people would be shocked to know how their medical records may be shared with nonmedical firms to help hospitals attract business. The practice is legal.