Manipulating privacy and reaping the benefits of technology

technology

(Franck V., Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Esther Hallal, a third-year student at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”  and  a  member  of  Federaţia  Asociaţiilor  Studenţilor  în  Medicină  din  România (FASMR). She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Despite the high rate of eHealth advancements barriers related to security and liberty need  to  be  addressed  in  order  to  leverage  the  adoption  of  innovation1.  Technology improves the quality of healthcare delivery in both developed and developing countries thus changing the understanding of privacy would allow us to pursue the benefits of big data mining2. Risking our security is a means to an end. Allowing data collection and analysis guarantees our rights to preventive healthcare, to equality, and to life.

Today,  EU  public  spending  on  healthcare  accounts  for  approximately  17.1%  of  total government spending, while 75% of all health costs derive from preventable conditions3. European  integration  interconnects  health  systems  and  redistributes  financial  efforts that  combat  the  following  challenges:  growing aging population, prevention and early detection of non-communicable diseases (diabetes, heart disease, and cancer), primary healthcare inequality4.

As  the  aging  population  grows,  we  are  spending  more  years  with  chronic  illnesses, which is driving high expenditure. According to the Eurostat population projections5, the projected increase in the dependency ratio is from 29.6% in 2016 to 51.2% in 2070. A sustainable future means adding “health to years” by redesigning care programs under a  common  framework,  encouraging  active  aging  and  embracing  augmented  health workforce.

Nowadays, DNA sequencing and pharmacogenomics generate personalized treatment plans that lead to optimal drug-response.6  While on a larger scale allowing for pattern recognition  within  the  population  which  can  be  used  to  identify  at-risk  groups  thus preventing and diagnosing disease in their incipient stages.

It is tempting to say that the collection of metadata is an infringement upon our security but we find ourselves in the “golden age of liberty”7. Moreover, let us not fall trap to the “black  swan  fallacy”  by  arguing  that  current  security  measures  allowed  terrorism because one cannot account for the catastrophes avoided. Healthcare is second to the finance  industry  in  the  number  of  annual  cyber  attacks8,  however,  this  should  only emphasize   the   value   of   mitigating   risks   rather   than   discrediting   the   benefits   of innovation.

In  conclusion,  in  order  to  reap  the  benefits  of  technology in healthcare and face the challenges  of  this  era,  a  lack of full control over our data becomes a necessary evil. Liberty comes with a cost. In health care, it is that of preventive care or even primary treatment. This is a cost that should be manipulated but not eliminated, as it is vital for keeping a holistic view of health care.

Bibliography

  1. Van Velthoven  MH,  Cordon  C.  Sustainable  Adoption  of  Digital  Health  Innovations: Perspectives  From  a  Stakeholder Workshop. J Med Internet Res. 2019;21(3):e11922. Published 2019 Mar 25. doi:10.2196/11922
  2. Zayyad MA, Toycan M. Factors affecting sustainable adoption of e-health technology in developing countries: an exploratory survey of Nigerian hospitals from the perspective of healthcare professionals.     PeerJ.     2018;6:e4436.     Published     2018     Mar     1. doi:10.7717/peerj.4436
  3. https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/economy-finance/ip079_en.pdf
  4. https://www.who.int/emergencies/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019
  5. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database?node_code=proj
  6. http://www.euro.who.int/ data/assets/pdf_file/0008/96632/E93736.pdf
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/mar/15/civil-liberties-dancing-lughnas a-freedom
  8. https://www.hticonference.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/gx-lshc-hc-outlook-2018.pdf

About the author

Esther Hallal is a third-year student at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”  and  a  member  of  Federaţia  Asociaţiilor  Studenţilor  în  Medicină  din  România (FASMR). She is a proactive person who finds great joy in uniting with others to bring ideas to life which  aim  to  revitalize  the  health-sector.  In  her  current  years  of  studentship,  she initiated  the  first  health-innovation  workshop  on  behalf  of  her  University;  the  aim  to empower  students  from  interdisciplinary  backgrounds  so  that  they  become  the  next thought  and  action  leaders  through  experiential  learning.  She  believes  that  change happens through long-term commitment, perseverance, and ethics.

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