Patient Control Reduces Privacy Issues for Health Data Sharing Networks
Giving patients greater control over their data helps reduce privacy and security concerns for a medical image sharing network, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, FierceHealthIT reports (Bird, FierceHealthIT, 8/13).
Ways of Sharing Medical Data
Researchers noted that health care organizations that control medical data sharing networks could face liability if a security breach jeopardizes patient privacy.
In comparison, manual methods of sharing medical data put the privacy burden on patients by relying on them to hand-deliver information, researchers said
Yaorong Ge -- a researcher from Wake Forest School of Medicine's Department of Biomedical Engineering -- said that although the manual method could lead to errors, it "has the advantage that the consent and regulatory procedures are well established. Patients are in full control of the sharing process and can protect their privacy."
For the study, researchers built an open-source prototype of a medical image sharing network that maintained the patient-controlled component of the manual data sharing process.
The prototype -- called the Patient Controlled Access-key REgistry, or PCARE -- allows patients to access their imaging results if they verify their identities electronically using unique identifiers. Patients also can use electronic signatures to authorize the sharing of their imaging data.
After conducting two trial runs of the PCARE system, researchers found that the network could successfully and securely share imaging results among hospitals (Gale, CMIO, 8/14).
The researchers wrote that the system protects privacy while placing a "minimal burden" on patients, health care providers and infrastructure (FierceHealthIT, 8/13). Ge added that the patient-controlled framework "dramatically simplifies the problem of reconciling differing regulations, policies and laws governing data sharing" (CMIO, 8/14).