Six Lines

Peyton Manning on Healthcare Privacy

Posted by Aaron Massey on 29 Jan 2016.

Peyton Manning, soon to play in Super Bowl 50, will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference on March 4th. If this seems truly strange to you, maybe it shouldn’t. For most of his career, but particularly for the last several years, Manning’s healthcare information has been extremely valuable to the press, to opponents, to fans, and to himself as he sought to negotiate contracts to play in the NFL.

In 2011, while attempting to come back from a series of neck surgeries,1 Manning was in jeopardy of missing the first start of his career, which was at the time a total of 227 games including the playoffs. It remains a Colts franchise record, and it was at the time the longest such active streak in the NFL. Reporters were, of course, hounding him to learn whether he would be open the season as the starting quarterback for the Colts, and he replied to one with this classic line:

I don’t know what HIPAA stands for, but I believe in it and I practice it. Peyton Manning

It may be easy to brush this off as a bit of Manning’s “awe, sucks” humor, but I think there is something else going on here. Manning is one of the most media-savvy, intelligent people in the NFL, and he almost certainly knows more about HIPAA than the average person. He knows that controlling information about his various medical conditions is worth millions of dollars to him.

More recently, an Al Jazeera America report suggested that Manning had performance enhancing drugs2 sent to his wife, Ashley, for his use. The NFL is conducting an investigation. Manning flatly denies the report as “garbage.” More interestingly, he explicitly makes the case that this is a violation of his wife’s medical privacy:

I don’t understand that. Maybe you can explain that to me. So it’s completely fabricated, complete trash, garbage – there’s more adjectives I’d like to be able to use. It really makes me sick. It makes me sick that it brings (my wife) Ashley into it, her medical history, her medical privacy being violated. That makes me sick. I don’t understand that. Peyton Manning

Manning and his wife have tried to stay out of the spotlight. Obviously, Manning has press commitments as a marquee NFL player, and he certainly does enough advertising to be a household name. But outside of his professional commitments, he remains reserved.

Setting aside all of this, I suspect Peyton Manning is simply interested in healthcare. One of the first things he did after being drafted by Indianapolis in 1998 was partner with St. Vincent’s Hospital to form the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. He’s remained partnered with the hospital for his entire career. This doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you do unless you’re genuinely interested in healthcare.

Manning’s keynote could be quite interesting, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a little healthcare privacy in his post-NFL career.

  1. Manning missed the entire 2011 season with this injury. 

  2. Human growth hormone (HGH)