Disruptive Techs Can Help Health-Care Privacy

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By Jeremy Hainsworth

Feb. 8 — Clinicians and privacy officers shouldn't fear but embrace disruptive technologies to enhance privacy and improve patient care, a panel of industry professionals said Feb. 5.

“Disruptive is a good thing,” Shanti Gidwani, Cisco Systems Canada health-care national senior director, said at the 17th annual Privacy & Security conference in Victoria, British Columbia.

“It moves us to be transformational and innovative,” Gidwani said.

She said smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers are examples of disruptive technologies. They are part of the digitization of the health-care environment, she said.

“We need to take a lot more things into account than we used to,” she added.

Gidwani said 50 percent of hospitals are now using smart phones or tablets. She said 69 percent of clinicians are using computers to access data.

She said 54 percent of data breaches remain undiscovered for months.

Gidwani said the use of mobile devices dissolves the privacy perimeter and that authentication of records using such devices must be fast for care to continue effectively. The bring-your-own-device concept is a good one but only if appropriate security measures are put in place to secure privacy, she said.

“You really have to have a framework so you know what your goals are and what you're trying to achieve,” Gidwani said. “It's a culture-changing process. New ways of protecting our data.”

The ability of people to interrupt health-care by using technology is also on the rise, she added. She cited the ability of hackers to access health-care technology and the disabling of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's wireless pacemaker due to the assassination concerns.

“This is pretty serious stuff,” Gidwani said. “These risks are here. From a black market perspective, there is money to be had.”

“Medical devices must be secure,” she said.

With privacy in mind, Privacy Analytics Chief Executive Officer Khaled El Emam said in order to create better health outcomes for individuals and patients in general, there needs to be an integration of data sets.

He cited Cancerlinq.org, which links cancer-care agencies across the U.S. as an example of sharing data to help patients and matching treatments to conditions.

Key to using such data, he said, is de-identifying the information.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hainsworth in Vancouver at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jimmy H. Koo at jkoo@bna.com