IBM, Microsoft and Amazon are among the giant tech firms that hospitals in America are sharing digitized patient health records with, and some are finding that disturbing.
Health care is a $3-trillion segment of the US economy, and mega-data could become the currency of the realm as hospitals share their data with business and industry.
IMB has partnered with Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Microsoft is partnering with Providence to access their 20 million patients’ health care information; Amazon is partnering with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and so medical advancement goes, all with the goal of saving lives and developing better medications and protocols. But at what cost?
“Those types of issues, around the citizen’s digital identity, needs to be moved in place as rapidly as possible now because the potential for abuse is extreme,” says Ed Peters, founder and CEO of Data Discovery Centers in Irving, Texas. Peters points out Europe’s “General Data Protection Regulation” as an example of governments’ ability to reign in abuse of private data, but says there aren’t many states in American stepping up. “California and a few other states are starting to implement policies, but we need a national program, like Europe has GDPR, that implement patients’ privacy rights around their digital identities.”
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent-company Alphabet, says at the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland that health care is the area that will benefit most from the application of artificial intelligence in the decade ahead, and committed to respecting patient privacy in their agreement with Ascension, an organization that operates 150 hospitals and scores of senior living facilities, providing services for tens of millions of consumers. Artificial intelligence is being applied to analysis of patient records, MRI’s and x-rays to develop more effective diagnosis and treatment for cancer, aiming to reduce costs and improve outcomes.