Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Big Data Can Save Health Care—But at What Cost to Privacy?

Litan, Robert. "Big Data Can Save Health Care—But at What Cost to Privacy?" The Atlantic, May 25, 2012.
From the opinion: “Although health data are highly sensitive and thus require protection, they are also a public good. The more data that researchers are able to analyze, the better chances they have for detecting patterns that can lead to fewer wasteful (and often painful) procedures and tests, and for finding new causes, treatments, and even cures for diseases. …Ironically, patient medical records are of only limited value to researchers. Apart from lab and test results, which can be useful, physicians' notes are collected episodically and prepared largely with an eye toward getting paid. Making these records "electronic" won't change their fundamental nature. What researchers could most profit from are databases that link genetic information, medical histories, areas where patients have lived and worked, and how patients behave…. More philanthropies and other organizations battling disease should … begin to ask patients for data…My view is that depersonalization at least should be tried, and even if it always doesn't work, many people who want faster cures will be willing to provide their data anyhow." Read more