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Is implementing big data in healthcare worth the privacy risk?



There is a strong and convincing case to fully implement big data analysis into the healthcare profession. Departments that are able to communicate with each other are often better able to help their patients. In short, more interconnectivity often equates to a more efficient healthcare system. It won’t be long before various different companies have mapped far more genomes that they currently have. There will be a huge database of patient’s clinical and genetic data. This should help doctors diagnose and treat diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, and heart conditions.

But often, the privacy issue is one that is overlooked. In the quest to streamline the whole process, the advent of big data analysis has thrown up some interesting questions about just how private our medical information really is. The worry is that what was once sacrosanct private medical information becomes a commodity traded freely between the healthcare industry and large corporations. The NHS has been reprimanded for illegally handing patient information to Google, and with massive fines available to any company that breaches regulations, as we move forward into the age of big data analysis, privacy issues will be at the forefront of general consciousness.

Companies that manufacture drugs in the UK have been fervent advocates of the possibilities that big data provides. They claim that through proper analysis, the mountains of information available to the healthcare industry and not only improve overall patient health, but save the NHS money in the process.

The possibilities if the healthcare industry successfully integrates big data into their business model are obvious. But as are the potential risks. With stringent regulation, the lives of could be made a lot better, their treatment could be more effective, and save money. But without such regulations, the risk that certain private information could be distributed to data banks like Google is going to provide a stumbling block.



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