Privacy in healthcare has become one of the big topics in the global discourse, and rightly so. All over the world, healthcare systems are debating how to give patients actionable access to their medical data. At the same time, many people ask to what degree and under what circumstances third parties should be given the right to access and work with personal health data—be it commercial companies, biomedical researchers at universities, or state-owned institutions responsible for disease surveillance.
Neither of these questions is easy to answer. In fact, there will very likely be different answers in different parts of the world. This issue of HIMSS Insights puts, among other topics, a focus on privacy in healthcare discussions in Europe and in the U.S. We learn that Europe is pressing ahead with its GDPR, which many see as a trailblazing piece of legislation that takes citizen and thus patient empowerment seriously. The GDPR is indeed copied in other parts of the world, most notably Brazil. We also follow up on recent discussions in the U.S. in response to a federal government initiative to improve patient access to healthcare data that is generated in medical institutions.
Also covered in this edition is the renaissance of wearables in digital healthcare. More and more of them, many AI-empowered, are finding their way into serious clinical trials, thus contributing to medical evidence and ultimately better patient care. But with data comes responsibility: The question of how to design a digital healthcare data space that respects the privacy of individuals while at the same time providing maximal medical benefit is more important than ever.