What's interesting in Digital Health space ?
Digital Health And Data Protection!
The constant progression of technology allows us to do the unimaginable in multiple aspects of society. People can complete their degrees online, travel to space, and manage many systems more efficiently.
In more recent years, the growth of Digital Health has been on a constant rise, allowing us to incorporate technology into our health systems to increase efficiency in the health sector. However, this has posed several ethical questions, especially regarding Data Protection and Privacy.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are one of the best examples of the ethical and practical issues Digital Health presents. EHRs date back to the 1960s when they were unfortunately too expensive to be implemented appropriately, so people decided to take advantage of the idea and apply it to a paper-based system which then evolved into today's medical records. Due to the growth of the Internet and Technology, EHRs were only implemented in the late 90s by developed countries. The paper-based system before was nowhere as safe as EHRs because there was no telling who had seen these records when they were not locked away. The most significant advantage of EHRs is that they allow people to see when information was accessed and who it was accessed by, which is an essential aspect of Data Protection. Along with this, the systems will typically alert the responsible individuals if a system is accessed by unauthorized people, whether that is a worker that was not permitted to access that information or a hacker.
EHRs contain data such as a patient's age, address, billing information, and health history. Alongside the practical disadvantages of mixing up patients' health records and lacking crucial medical information, all this data can be found in a single system making it vulnerable to hacking and identity theft, leading to many other problems for an individual. Acts and Regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States of America and the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) in the European Union ensure that health providers follow appropriate guidelines and strict measures to minimize the risk of data being misused. Patients are also given the right to limit who has access to what; for example, some patients might choose that their data is only used during an emergency. This acts as a solution for issues surrounding privacy and confidentiality. Nevertheless, many patients withhold information that could be useful to medical personnel out of fear that their data will be misused. Therefore, governments have yet to find many more solutions to increase the wider population's trust.
To conclude, Digital Health has proven very useful in these times of uncertainty. Nevertheless, people still question the ethics behind it. Some individuals are still afraid to put their Data in the hands of their hospitals, systems are not safe enough from Cybercrimes, and it is still expensive for it to be implemented everywhere, which links to the Digital Divide. Do you think Digital Health will be completely safe and the wider population will fully trust Health Systems?
By Precious Ndira