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, as well as 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 any and 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 as a way 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 II
By Ignacio N. Cofone
In Part I of this blog post, I argue that to adequately measure privacy concerns in e-health, we need to embed the cost of privacy in health states’ measurements. I propose a method to incorporate privacy concerns into a standard health impact evaluation, based on Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs). Using the Visual Analogue Scale, Standard Gamble, and Time-Trade-Off methods, with minor alterations, yields a more complete measurement of any given health state, including the level of privacy invasion. Under this framework, the costs and benefits of treatment are explicitly measured, and treatments with a high amount of data collection and a higher probability of making sensitive data public are given a concrete penalty, which allows for a better comparison between potential medical interventions.
This method provides a better way to estimate privacy concerns and balance them with a treatments’ health benefits. Hence, it can guide health professionals and policymakers in incorporating privacy considerations and making better choices regarding e-health programs. Here, I explore why QALYs are particularly well suited to do this, as well as the policy and doctrinal consequences of this proposal.