This piece was part of a symposium featuring commentary from participants in the Center for Health Policy and Law’s annual conference, Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations, held on April 11-12, 2019 at Northeastern University School of Law. The symposium was originally posted through the Northeastern University Law Review Online Forum.
Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations Blog Symposium
We are pleased to present this symposium featuring commentary from participants in the Center for Health Policy and Law’s annual conference, Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations, held on April 11-12, 2019 at Northeastern University School of Law. As a note, additional detailed analyses of issues discussed during the conference will be published in the 2021 Winter Issue of the Northeastern University Law Review.
Throughout the two-day conference, speakers and attendees discussed how innovations, including artificial intelligence, robotics, mobile technology, gene therapies, pharmaceuticals, big data analytics, tele- and virtual health care delivery, and new models of delivery, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs), retail clinics, and medical-legal partnerships (MLPs), have entered and changed the healthcare market. More dramatic innovations and market disruptions are likely in the years to come. These new technologies and market disruptions offer immense promise to advance health care quality and efficiency, and improve provider and patient engagement. Success will depend, however, on careful consideration of potential perils and well-planned interventions to ensure new methods ultimately further, rather than diminish, the health of patients, especially those who are the most vulnerable.
In this two-part post for the Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations blog symposium, Ignacio Cofone engages in a discussion centered on the importance of addressing patients’ concerns when introducing new health technologies. While privacy risks may not always be avoided altogether, Cofone posits that privacy risks (and their potential costs) should be weighed against all health benefits innovative technology and treatments may have. To do so, Cofone introduces the concept of using health economics and a Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) framework to evaluate the weight and significance of the costs and benefits related to health technologies that may raise patient privacy concerns.
Measuring Health Privacy – Part I
By Ignacio N. Cofone
For e-health treatments to be operational, including electronic health records and remote patient monitoring, a significant amount of personal, and often sensitive, patient information is collected and frequently sent electronically to medical professionals and other actors.
These e-health treatments, while helpful to patients, raise privacy concerns related to a reduction in personal privacy and an increased risk of privacy breaches; privacy concerns which are not considered when evaluating their incorporation with treatments. John Carey, Power to the Patient: How Mobile Technology is Transforming Healthcare 14 (Frieda Klotz ed., 2015). Patients are indeed concerned. About half of the respondents in the survey believe that consumers’ wariness about privacy violations will be a major obstacle for the adoption of mobile technology in healthcare. Id. at 14, 16. Over half of the respondents consider privacy risks to be the biggest concern of these technologies’ application to healthcare. Id.