Thursday, October 14, 2010

Privacy safeguards

For the past few months, the Wall Street Journal has run a great series on the use of electronic personal information by commercial entities. The series is titled "What They Know." While the emphasis of this series has mostly been on the tracking of web browsing behavior, the latest article in this series discusses the "scraping" of personal data from a patient support network called PatientsLikeMe.

This is a troubling development.

Like the electronic commerce IT revolution before it, the anticipated healthcare IT revolution depends upon the proper security (and associated trust) of private data. I have covered Privacy in healthcare before (see this, for example) and my summary conclusion remains that this topic will receive a disproportionate amount of attention in the coming months.

I don't agree with alarmists like Deb Peel who advocate against use of any patient data (and consequently put a number of patients at risk). The right answer is to put well understood safeguards in place and use de-identified data in a manner that promotes innovation in outcomes based treatment. This is an opportunity for companies to innovate in this space.

What products/innovations do you think we need?

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