Data Driven Healthcare Provides Essential Early Insights

Your health is something to treasure and history has proven over and over that early or preventative care is more effective than any cutting edge treatment. The leading edge of medical research is focused on detecting and treating illnesses before they ever become dangerous, and the computer may be the greatest medical invention ever created. Websites such as 23AndMe allow for anyone to see a breakdown of their ethnic genetics, but this is just a small taste of how deep computers allow healthcare professionals and researchers see into their patients. Genetic testing for diseases, such as Tay-Sachs disease, has become commonplace and the processing power available to the modern physician allows for stupendous insight into a patient’s genetic code.  However, recent data breaches have made many patients reconsider whether or not they really want to give up their genetic data, which is the most personal information a patient possesses, to healthcare professionals. Thankfully, in the United States there are strict laws about the protection of healthcare information which fall under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA. This act lays down guidelines for the handling, transfer, and security of medical data such as a patient’s genetic information and treatment history. It has been updated several times as technology progresses and includes sections on cloud computing and storage to keep it abreast with the latest technology.


The data a patient provides to their doctors and physicians doesn’t have to be as in-depth as their genetic code, but rather just their past medical history. This record of an individual’s health is an invaluable asset in the healthcare world, which relies on a data driven approach towards healthcare. Several forms of cancer and multiple diseases can be detected by comparing the levels of several compounds in a patient’s blood; this testing requires a baseline to compare the new data against and the longer the patient’s record the more reliable this baseline is. Previous treatments, surgeries, and previous courses of medication and their effects on the patient are all contained in the comprehensive record that doctors have access to. Access to this record is critical for effective treatment, which is why your healthcare provider may ask you for permission to access or share your medical record. As a patient you do have the right to refuse access to your record, but unless you have a good reason to do so you should allow your healthcare practitioner the access they request. The data modern doctors and physicians have access to allows for customized treatment plans that are both safer and more effective than the treatments of old. News of data breaches can make it seem like there are no regulations protecting your personal health, but in reality, there are very strict laws and regulations aimed at keeping your most personal information safe. If you ever feel that your information is not in safe hands, you can refuse a healthcare practitioner access to your medical history. However, the vast majority of doctors, physicians, and psychiatrists are doing their utmost to help you heal and have your best interests at heart.

Cameron Carson