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Life is good and your health data is flourishing

In chapter seven of their book, The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System, the authors Prof. Dr. Elgar Fleisch, Christoph Franz, and Prof. Dr. Andreas Herrmann discuss digital health data and data security.

The authors look at the power which is held by whoever has key healthcare data and reflect on the fact that in many countries most medically relevant data unfortunately remains fragmented, with the electronic medical record (EMR) holding the core data accessed by healthcare providers.

Over the past decade, technology companies have attempted to simplify record keeping in medicine. For instance, in 2018 Apple launched Health Records in collaboration with more than 120 hospitals in the USA. Meanwhile in India, LiveHealth addresses data fragmentation by collecting diagnoses and treatment outcomes in one app which can be accessed by different providers.

Fleisch et al. contrast this approach to some of the benefits for individuals collecting personal longitudinal health data, such as helping us understand cause and effect of medical issues. “Digital biomarkers are physiological and behavioral measurements collected through digital technology that explain, influence, or predict health-related results (pp. 151).” In this context, the authors also explain some of the roles that artificial intelligence may play and how in working effectively with humans, more accurate diagnoses can be achieved.

While the authors clearly see the many benefits of collecting and sharing data in a systematic manner, they also review some of the downsides of electronic record keeping. For instance, medical imaging archives are growing at a fast rate, creating enormous archives. Physicians are also faced with increasing administrative tasks to input patient information. With DNA sequencing also progressing, the data streams are ever growing.

The authors further highlight additional considerations around data protection. Keeping data safe and secure is another major task which has become a crucial part of the development process for new systems, and privacy laws often give individuals the right to transparency and to the deletion of their data.

How would you like your health data to be stored and shared? Would you like to learn more about the topic of digitalisation of healthcare? The English version of the book, “The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System is available online and in book shops (see references below).

References:
Fleisch, E., Franz, C. and Herrmann, A. (2021). The Digital Pill: What Everyone Should Know about the Future of Our Healthcare System, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78756-676-7. doi.org: 10.1108/978-1-78756-675-020211015. Learn more here.

Fleisch, E., Franz, C., Herrmann, A., Mönninghoff, A., Die digitale Pille: Eine Reise in die Zukunft unseres Gesundheitssystems, Campus Verlag: Frankfurt a.M., Deutschland. Learn more here.

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