Some say data is the new oil or gold. As many industries have seen, data gathering and analysis have brought many useful insights. These in turn have improved products and services in agriculture, business, finance, manufacturing, retail, transport. The list keeps growing and healthcare is no exception.
Artificial technologies are helping save lives. For example, machine learning is being used to leverage patient data, customized dashboards display risk scores and send alerts to doctors if a patient is identified as being in the early stage of sepsis allowing rapid, effective treatment.
The Frost & Sullivan Global Digital Health Outlook 2020 predicts that the global digital healthcare market will be worth USD 234.5 billion by 2023. It also notes that this is driven particularly by the mobile health industry or mobile based medical devices.
Wireless technologies, affordable smartphones, improved 3G and 4G networks, increased use of mobile platforms, as well as convenience and lifestyle changes have all contributed to this trend.
The great concerns around personal data
So what is digital health? According to Wikipedia, it is the “convergence of digital technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and make medicine more personalized and precise”.
As more countries digitalize healthcare systems and more people use connected medical devices, massive amounts of personal data are being gathered, stored and shared between diverse healthcare users and providers.
We read about the benefits of improving the quality of life for patients living with diabetes and cost effectiveness of self-monitoring, which reduces the need for visits to the doctor or hospital and allows the treatment of more urgent cases.
What do you know about your medical digital files?
But what about the security of our personal data? Who is responsible for it? The medical device manufacturers or does it fall to the healthcare providers, such as hospitals? Or are patients who use self-monitoring devices responsible for ensuring their own data security? Have you ever wondered how and where the last digital scan you did was stored, if your doctor shared it with a colleague or if it was submitted for some sort of medical research?
Safety through standards
IEC expert, Georg Heidenreich, who is involved in the development of international standards for electrical equipment in medical practice, gave an interview in the IEC e-tech magazine, in which he discusses the different types of algorithms being used in medical devices and where the current responsibilities lie. He highlighted the role IEC is playing in helping to achieve safety and performance of such devices through standards and in particular, the urgent need to develop a one which addresses the management of data in terms of integrity and validity, and meets safety and performance goals that are the basis of regulatory market access for medical devices.
Read the full interview.