Panel: Big data’s role in healthcare remains unclear

Big data is an enigma when it comes to healthcare, as described by a panel on Wednesday at the third annual Health Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by Patient Privacy Rights. On one hand, according to Deloitte principal Deborah Golden, there are infinite positive possibilities for big data use, such as improving patient safety via openly available medication information.

On the other hand, according to Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney, big data also represents big privacy issues.

“A lot of our problems come from giving data away,” Sweeney said.

Much of the conversation focused on those problems, particularly as they related to data being used without patient consent–or knowledge that they gave consent.

“In the U.S., we tend to take a sector-specific approach to privacy regulation,” David Jacobs, an attorney with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said. “We’re nowhere near where we should be as far as consumer access to their own medical information to find out where it does and to exercise control over it.”

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