The positive potential of GDPR - sharing data for the good of public health | DMA

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The positive potential of GDPR - sharing data for the good of public health

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If medical innovators can find a way to promote trusted data-sharing that patients have control over, a world of possibility will open for more proactive and effective healthcare using IoT, AI and other enablers, says J Cromack, chief commercial officer at Consentric.

The opportunities for healthcare providers to harness the latest technology and make smarter use of data are boundless – from pre-empting patient conditions before symptoms worsen to targeting treatments more effectively, using everything from connected ‘wearable’ devices to artificial intelligence to look for the tiniest clues.

As health records that include medical images are captured digitally, and as more individuals willingly wear devices that monitor basic health signals, it becomes possible to build up a rich, connected and evolving picture of someone’s health – and trigger alerts and actions if something in the data is awry. Together, personal health apps, real-time data analytics and artificial intelligence offer a new way to think about keeping people well.

It’s hard to imagine any downside to this – other than concerns about keeping one’s personal data safe. Medical information is among the special categories of personal data requiring careful handling under the new EU General Data Protection Regulation. But address this successfully, and secure patients’ trust, and the doors to innovative new approaches to their care can swing open – to the advantage of everyone.

Freedom through control

Although tightening regulatory controls under GDPR may have set pulses racing among those tasked with safeguarding patient data, they have created an impetus to find robust approaches to personal data. Approaches that stay relevant well into the future and don’t conflict with other strategic priorities – such as improving the quality of care, driving up patient safety and doing all of this within shrinking budgets.

One of the most effective and powerful ways to stay safely within the parameters of GDPR, but without restricting healthcare innovation, is...

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