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Privacy: the fine line between patient and consumer healthcare data

Healthcare is big business and the use of technologies by private firms is rising.  These privatized firms are businesses, and businesses exist to make money. That being said, EU Observer has raised the question of whether or not people are being treated as patients or customers.

The case of Implantable Cardiovascular Defibrillators (ICDs) is particularly interesting because it involves a product, a privatized business and a patient.

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This has resulted in problems for patients using the ICD (sometimes even resulting in death through intensive and continuous shocks by the ICD) and was followed by mass product recalls. The data belongs to the manufacturer who can do with it what they choose. At the present time the data collected from the patient’s heart by the ICD is sent to the manufacturer – not to the doctor or a hospital nor, monopolization of research and development using that patient’s personal health data.

What is a life worth?

You’d think we lived in a world where healthcare and the preservation of human life trumps revenue growth and business development, but it looks like the rise in privatized healthcare could be leading us down a dangerous path. On one hand competition is good and drives new product development. On the other it hinders development by isolating the resources to a select group of researchers. In-between lies YOUR personal health data, and, more often than not, what happens to it is not up to you.

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Data control should be in your hands, with the core goal of improving the healthcare delivery as a whole. No patient should ever have to ask where their health data is stored and they should certainly not be denied access! Development of medical devices should not come at the cost of lives or our sense of humanity.

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