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The Safety of Healthcare Data is a Top Priority

The Safety of Healthcare Data is a Top Priority

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There is no doubt that medical data and healthcare records are highly sensitive. However, recent events have shone light on the lack of adequate security measures for this data. How can we prevent privacy risks but still allow researchers to gain life-saving insights from our medical data?

Pressure builds to secure health care data

Due to recent healthcare data breaches, there has been a strong push for the US federal government to increase personal medical information protections. This is especially true, as healthcare processes shift from on-paper to online, and data is analyzed to better patient care.

For example, reporter Maggie Miller states that “one major recent data breach led to the personal information of 20 million customers of blood testing groups Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp and Opko Health being exposed”.

Currently, much of the momentum has been in efforts to urge law officials to focus on the sale and use of data amidst the social media space. However, in light of recent breaches, there has been much more attention geared towards the importance of securing health record and medical data.

Evidence That Consumers Are Now Putting Privacy Ahead Of Convenience

Gartner researchers have discovered a considerable amount of consumers and employees that do not consent to trade their data’s security, safety, and peace-of-mind for more convenience. 

With that in mind, many companies and organizations are redefining their internal views of customer data.

Chris Howard, a distinguished research vice president at Gartner, states that “As a CIO, you have a mandate to maintain data protections on sensitive data about consumers, citizens and employees. This typically means putting someone in charge of a privacy management program, detecting and promptly reporting breaches, and ensuring that individuals have control of their data. This is a board-level issue, yet barely half of organizations have adequate controls in place” (Source).

Recently, at the Gartner IT Symposium in Toronto, he argued that companies must be able to change their practices and become more adaptive to privacy-related demands. Gartner calls this the ‘ContinuousNext’ approach, and they hope it will build momentum through digital transformation and beyond. 

The steady erosion of privacy at home 

Most public areas are under the watch of AI cameras, cellphone companies, and advertisers that watch your every move. 

All these internet-connected gadgets, including smart assistants, internet-connected light bulbs, video doorbells, Wi-Fi thermostats, are filling every corner of your home and they’re watching you. 

The problem: These devices learn to pick up your voice, interests, habits, TV preferences, meals, times home and away, and all other types sensitive data. The gadgets then relay this information back to the companies where they were manufactured.

However, can people switch back to their old ways? Can people go back to regular temperature control systems, TV’s that aren’t smart, and human assistants rather than robotic ones?

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has placed new boundaries to govern digital snooping especially without warrants and consent. What does the future look like for a world that cannot live without tech?

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Lack of Quality Data is Hurting Patients

Lack of Quality Data is Hurting Patients

Facebook privacy issues

Less data means less healthcare breakthroughs, which means less longevity. So let’s promote data sharing for healthcare benefits because sharing is caring.

Having high-quality healthcare records means improved and advanced insights for patient care, increased operational efficiency and, of course, possibly finding cures for diseases. Without this data, the effectiveness of health-related research declines.

Unfortunately, in the healthcare industry, the truth is that data is being siloed and not shared because it represents a liability even though healthcare organizations are experiencing a demand greater than ever to share their data with researchers for analytics.

Why is it difficult to access/share healthcare data?

There are several reasons why healthcare organizations do not engage in data sharing with health care researchers. Here are a few of them:

  • People are unfamiliar with new technology around de-identifying data, thus increasing the risk of identification.
  • Healthcare organizations are engaging in methods that produce high-risk datasets
  • Organizations are not able to be 100% confident in protecting privacy while sharing data
  • Healthcare organizations prefer to sell data over sharing data  (Source).

When dealing with sensitive PII and PHI, the need to balance the demand for quality data while still complying with privacy regulations poses a trade-off. Unfortunately, today 2 out of 3 people do not have confidence in their organization’s risk and compliance procedures’ ability to protect patient data (Source).

In healthcare research today, researchers are not able to acquire data due to information silos. “Healthcare big data silos make it nearly impossible for providers, pharmacies, and other stakeholders to work together for truly coordinated care”, Brent Clough, CEO of Trio Health states. “This siloed nature of healthcare prevents physicians, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers and payers from accessing and interpreting important data sets, instead, encouraging each group to make decisions based upon a part of the information rather than the whole” (Source). To bust these silos down, researchers need what is known as “legislative directives” to allow data sharing. These directives not only encourage data sharing, but they also include security requirements to protect personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) (Source).

If we break through all or most of these barriers, the possibilities of what we can do with all the financial, clinical, R&D, administration and operational data available are endless.

Why is this data useful?

In general, the most significant use of data is for primary analysis, especially quality assurance (QA). 72% of surveyed respondents claim that they use data for QA (Source). That translates well into the healthcare sector, as quality patient care

The quality of patient care is missing is many healthcare practices as a result of a lack of data. For example, in the United States, 5% of diagnoses are incorrect, and these diagnostic errors contribute to about 10% of patient deaths (Source). Naturally, opening up data for analytics, and therefore minimizing error, will benefit not only patients, but also healthcare professionals’ overall reputation and a nation’s economy.

Using healthcare analytics for robotics and AI will enable data-driven decision making, increased operations, decreased costs, and focused clinical effectiveness. Meanwhile, prospective advantages of data sharing in the health sector to enhance AI include:

  • Robotic exams and surgeries
  • Workflow optimization
  • Improved hospital supplies inventory control
  • Better health record organization.

In the near future, a mere routine doctor’s visit could be switched out for regular monitoring of a patient’s health status and digital consultations from their home.

Who is benefitting from this?

Everyone is benefitting from healthcare organizations sharing their data with researchers. Healthcare professionals are able to provide better service, researchers are able to use raw data to generate useful findings to both professionals and patients, patients are diagnosed efficiently and effectively, and so on.

For example, AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company, has a long-term alliance with HealthCore, a health services research company, to conduct first-hand research and determine the most effective and cost-efficient treatments for certain chronic diseases. AstraZeneca aims to use HealthCore’s data, along with its own trial data, to  make informed financial and healthcare decisions (Source).

Another example of the benefits of data sharing can be seen in the diagnostic-realm of healthcare. A recent video by IBM and Medtronic shows their future intentions to have their insulin pumps work autonomously, regularly checking blood-glucose levels and injecting insulin when needed. This project aims to prevent disruption in the user’s daily life and make it as easy as possible to manage their disorder (Source).

Humber River Hospital in Canada is increasing the quality of service by spending more time face time with their patients by automating 80% of their backhand services (such as pharmacy, laundry, and food delivery) with robots and other technologies (Source).

Businesses can benefit off data sharing too. For example, last year, Apple partnered with 13 healthcare systems, such as John Hopkins, to download electronic health-related data onto devices (with consent) (Source).

Without this crucial healthcare research, innovation to medicine and disease management are at a standstill, hurting us all.
CryptoNumerics enables data sharing using state-of-the-art privacy techniques like secure multiparty computation. Our software allows healthcare organizations to satisfy privacy regulations and data residency restrictions while generating valuable insights. In other words, our software will help the healthcare field better serve patients. Visit us on our website to find out more.

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You and Your Company’s Data: Is it Private?

You and Your Company’s Data: Is it Private?

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Public privacy is an issue we face today, globally. Let’s compare UK and US privacy awareness and learn why, as Chief Privacy Officers are increasing in the government sector, PETs are on the rise too. 

We need a global right to privacy in public spaces

Nowadays, digital surveillance combined with AI has become more and more invasive. 

Fortunately, in-person surveillance is neither time-efficient nor cost-effective. However, our phones alone provide disturbing amounts of data to companies by tracking our movements, searches, calls, and texts. What’s worse, as facial recognition software develops, it will only become easier and easier to follow our every move.

Additionally, AI has boosted the invasiveness of public surveillance, allowing recognition as we walk the streets.

Unfortunately, China is looking to harness this personal data for social control and behavioural engineering, in hopes to punish people for bad behaviour and reward people for good behaviour.

China is not alone, as there are other countries out there that are developing data harnessing technologies and selling them to government bodies to gain more control over their people.

Two major courses of action come from this: we need stronger controls on the production and sale of these tools, and we need to define the rights to privacy in a public setting.

How employees and their organizations are prioritizing data privacy

It is now clear that the UK is doing much better than the US in terms of data privacy, from the perspectives of legal understanding and training opportunities.

In a survey conducted in the US and the UK to check employees knowledge of their organizations’ current stance on privacy regulations, it was found that about 60% of employees in both countries handle sensitive information every day. Additional results indicated that while only 17% of UK respondents were unaware of privacy laws dictating how their companies manage sensitive data, a stunning 52% of US respondents replied in the same unaware manner.

Surprisingly, one year after the implementation of GDPR, 84% of UK employees feel they understand their professional data compliance obligations and half agree that their information is safer now with GDPR.

As we all know, privacy is a booming concern in our world. Thus, it is beneficial to us all to be aware of current legislature and compliance measures.

Privacy-enhancing technology for data analysis

More and more government agencies are appointing CPOs, or Chief Privacy Officers, and with that, comes privacy-enhancing technology (PET).

What are PETs? They are technologies that enable agencies to leverage the increasing amount of data available for analysis, and at the same time, ensuring private information stays private.

To ensure privacy officers are familiar with PET, the Royal Society has recently published a report detailing five prominent PETs at the moment:

  • Homomorphic encryption
  • Trusted execution
  • Secure multiparty computation
  • Differential privacy
  • Personal data stores

These PETs help with secure access, but they also allow for joint analysis of data by several organizations and secured data outsourcing to the Cloud.

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CANON: Canadian Anonymization Network

CANON: Canadian Anonymization Network

Facebook privacy issues
The Canadian Anonymization Network (CANON) is a very big deal for Canada!

What is CANON? It is an unofficial network of data custodians from the private, public, and health sector, who promote anonymization as a privacy-mindful way to use data for economic gains. CANON has some of the largest data custodians all over the country!

What are CANON’s objectives?

  • Share and exchange information about internationally-evolving, legal, policy, and technical standards of anonymization.
  • Develop a Canadian community that prioritizes effective anonymization across the public and private sectors.
  • Educate the community at large about the effectiveness of alternative anonymization methods, and meaningfully contribute to discussions about risks and opportunities.
  • Identify emerging issues and challenges with anonymization, including re-identification risks, legal/policy constraints and ambiguities.
  • Advocate for balanced legislative and policy standards for anonymization that enable innovative and beneficial uses of data, while reasonably protecting against foreseeable privacy risks.

CryptoNumerics is pleased to join organizations like TELUS, Bell, TD, Microsoft, and IBM as part of CANON.

Key success indicators of the network include a better understanding of anonymization while not compromising the utility of data. Also, organizations will see a reduced privacy risk and can thus be more confident in their analytical data usage.

While facilitated by stakeholders, this initiative aims to address many related concerns for the next few months.

For further information about CANON and its objectives, visit the CANON website.

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Move Over GDPR and CCPA: Time for NYPA to Step in the Spotlight

Move Over GDPR and CCPA: Time for NYPA to Step in the Spotlight

Facebook privacy issues
Privacy regulations become more prominent as New York state considers their own version of CCPA. GDPR may help consumers and marketers more than you think. Facebook launching new app for data usage.
Move over CCPA? 

CCPA just became old news. Why? New York is considering a privacy act of their own: the New York Privacy Act, or the NYPA. Consumers protected in this act would receive a set of data privacy rights, and businesses affected would receive a set of rules and duties to abide by.

Who is affected? Similar to the CCPA, the NYPA applies to “legal entities that conduct business in New York” or that “intentionally target” residents of New York with their products or services.

Additionally, it will be an opt-in process whereby citizens must provide consent rather than it be assumed.

Nonetheless, we look forward to seeing the status of this act progress from consideration to implementation.

Why marketers and consumers should thank GDPR

Welcome to the new data privacy digital marketing reality.

It turns out, satisfying GDPR regulations not only helps the business stay compliant, but it also helps the business stay on the good side of the consumer.

Ad impressions have increased and costs have decreased. A marketer’s dream come true. One year after GDPR came into play, the results are informative and insightful. This new data privacy consciousness can be a win-win situation. Marketers can gain the insights and performance they need to achieve their objectives, while users can obtain greater control over their data. For example, Facebook users now have a new ‘clear history’ tool which anonymizes their off-Facebook web activity and disables the Facebook tracking pixel. A happy consumer, is a happy government, is a happy business.

Facebook to launch new app for data collection

Facebook says the new app, called ‘Study’, will pay users to collect information about which apps people are using and for how long. Considering the privacy infringement issues with Facebook’s previous two similar apps, Study faces much scrutiny, although Facebook has stated that this app is different.

Using the app, they plan to collect and analyze information including: which apps are installed on the user’s phone, user’s country, device and network type, as well as the time spent on each app.

“We have a responsibility to keep people’s information safe and secure. With this app, we’re collecting the minimum amount of information needed to help us build better products”, says Facebook product manager, Sagee Ben-Zedeff. “People often have a lot of apps on their phone, so we’ll periodically remind participants that they are a part of the program. They’ll also have the opportunity to review the information they’re sharing with us.”

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