Who owns a patient’s health information?
·The patient to whom it refers?
·The health provider that created it?
·The IT specialist who has the greatest control over it?
The notion of ownership is inadequate for health information. For instance, no one has an absolute right to destroy health information. But we all understand what it means to own an automobile: You can drive the car you own into a tree or into the ocean if you want to. No one has the legal right to do things like that to a “master copy” of health information.
All of the groups above have a complex series of rights and responsibilities relating to health information that should never be trivialized into ownership.
Raising the question of ownership at all is a hash argument. What is a hash argument? Here’s how Julian Sanchez describes it:
Just as the little mobile wireless devices radically transformed our day-to-day lives, so will such devices have a seismic impact on the future of health care. It’s already taking off at a pace that parallels the explosion of another unanticipated digital force — social networks.
Take your electrocardiogram on your smartphone and send it to your doctor. Or to pre-empt the need for a consult, opt for the computer-read version with a rapid text response. Having trouble with your vision? Get the $2 add-on to your smartphone and get your eyes refracted with a text to get your new eyeglasses or contact lenses made. Have a suspicious skin lesion that might be cancer? Just take a picture with your smartphone and you can get a quick text back in minutes with a determination of whether you need to get a biopsy or not. Does your child have an ear infection? Just get the scope attachment to your smartphone and get a 10x magnified high-resolution view of your child’s eardrums and send them for automatic detection of whether antibiotics will be needed. Worried about glaucoma? You can get the contact lens with an embedded chip that continuously measures eye pressure and transmits the data to your phone. These are just a few examples of the innovative smartphone software and hardware — apps and “adds” technology — that have been developed and will soon be available for broad use.
More people with higher levels of concern about their health feel they are in good health, see their doctors regularly for check-ups, take prescription meds “exactly” as instructed, feel they eat right, and prefer lifestyle changes over using medicines.
And 40% of these highly-health-concerned people have also used a health technology in the past year.
At the other end of the spectrum are people with low levels of health concern: few see the doctor regularly for check-ups, less than one-half take their meds as prescribed by their doctors, only 31% feel they eat right, and only 36% feel they’re in good health.
While roughly one-fourth to one-third of U.S. adults have been early adopters of consumer technologies in general across low-moderate-and-high health concern segments, more of those with greater health concerns tended to use health tech products in the past twelve months: 40% of the highest concerned people vs. 25% of those with moderate health concerns and 14% of those at the lowest-concern level.
These insights are discussed in a report, The New Role of Technology in Consumer Health and Wellness from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), published in October 2011.