There Needs To Be Balance Between Big Data, Privacy In Healthcare, Experts Say

Influential scholars, including government officials and private nonprofit sector leaders, have expressed their view that the benefits of big data must be carefully balanced with patient privacy concerns.

The recent "Big Data and Health: Implications for New Jersey's Health Care System" conference featured many prominent individuals who spoke about how data can transform healthcare and help clinicians improve care and patient outcomes. 

Farzard Mostashari, MD, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform and Aneesh Chopra, the first and former chief technology officer of the U.S., discussed innovations in big data that help protect patient privacy.

"Technology is available for physicians to know the health of their patients and use that information for preventative measures any time they want," said Dr. Mostashari, according to the news release. "If a patient goes to the hospital, their physician should be alerted right away. Physicians have the best working knowledge of their patients, know the best way to treat them and should no longer see patients just in the office."

Mr. Chopra emphasized the importance of patient privacy and the need for patients to have control over their medical information. "I'm able to allow Netflix and Apple TV to interconnect, but if I'm unhappy with Apple TV I can log into Netflix and de-permission Apple TV from accessing my Netflix history, simply by clicking a button," said Mr. Chopra according to the news release. "Yet we don't do that in healthcare. If we started to allow patients control, new business models would emerge."

Julie Brill, commissioner of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, said she sees potential for big data projects in healthcare, but privacy is paramount in the discussion, according to the relase. "Privacy is an ethical discussion, it’s a structural discussion and it's a legal discussion," said Ms. Brill. "Rather than have this big notion that big data is going to benefit mankind, we have to be specific about the benefits of any specific project and balance with potential harms."

More Articles on Patient Privacy:

5 Tips For Protecting Patient Information & Responding to Healthcare Data Breaches 
6 Recommendations for Preventing Medical Identity Theft 
5 Tips to Reduce Third-Party HIPAA Risk 

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