I suppose I shouldn’t say, “Welcome back, privacy concerns,” as I’m sure they never left, just quietly assumed their position humming in the background and shadows of the internet noise. This week, however, they took center stage both in the healthcare space and in government news.
This week, The New York Times published an article on a significant announcement for the healthcare industry. A group of global partners spanning 41 countries and including 70 medical, research and advocacy organizations agreed to share a heap of genetic data. “Their aim is to put the vast and growing trove of data on genetic variations and health into databases that would open to researchers and doctors all over the world, not just to those who created them,” The New York Times wrote. Currently, research labs and facilities are very much siloed. Each institution has their own research within their own walls and with their own records and system of operations. There is no universal method for representing and sharing genetic data, which could lead to advanced findings in cures and other health-related research.
One reason for the lack of a central system is the sheer volume of data. There is just too much information being produced by the minute. Not only that, but it is often unstructured and not of quality (meaning information was entered or gathered incorrectly/differently, such as January being entered in as Jan, 1, 01, or January, making it difficult to analyze). While volume and quality of data is an issue, the overarching problem, or rather challenge, healthcare professionals face lies mostly in the security space. With all of that sensitive patient data, there need to be strict, infallible measures to protect that information. Along those same lines is the question of who will have access to that information.
This is especially significant as it comes at the same time of privacy concerns regarding the NSA’s reported access to granular consumer data. Continue reading Welcome Back, Privacy Concerns: Big Data, Healthcare, and PRISM