Monday, March 3, 2014

Medical record and big data: an NHS case

In the UK, an argument has occurred regarding to patients' data. It is said that the entire NHS hospital patient database for England was uploaded to Google servers.

The Guardian: NHS England patient data 'uploaded to Google servers', Tory MP says

Google is one of the companies which deal with big data. Its collection and analysis of the data is usually helpful to our daily life. Nowadays, gathering enormous data is absolute power.

However, some people are afraid their personal information is opened to others. They are often opposed to data disclosure. Indeed, you would feel irritated if your personal life is peeped by others. Especially, health data are one of the most sensitive data. For example, medical records of a president would be extremely valuable for the competitors and stakeholders. Leaking of the medical status of a head to an enemy means the ruin of the nation.

Therefore, access to medical information is usually strictly restricted. Even physicians are prohibited to see the medical record of a person who is not concerned.

On the other hand, it is possible that the big data analysis around medical data makes an innovation. For example, most hospitals have their own statistics of the medical treatment. If their data are linked each other, we could find something precious, such as safer method of an operation, or risk factors of some incidents.

The system of the medical record is also underestimated. Many hospitals introduce their original electronic medical record system developed by some industries. But I have never seen a system with good usability. Maybe Google can create a prefer one with low price.

Convenience and security are trade-offs. In my opinion, medical industry should utilize the big data a little more.

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