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Enormous value in 'appropriate use' of healthcare data

Report says governments, organisations and individuals could benefit from effective 'trade rules' for data

An effective set of 'trade rules' for personal data is needed if governments, organisations and individuals are to benefit from its huge potential value, according to a new report.

The World Economic Forum – Boston Consulting Group (BGC) study singles out healthcare as one of the areas that could benefit from clearer rules about how personal data can be used.

John Rose, senior partner at BCG, said: “Appropriate use of personal data can lead to new economic value, as the recent valuations of companies that collect and utilise personal data would suggest. And it can foster significant social value - benefiting industry, individuals, and governments alike.

“But data is an asset that needs to flow to create value - and that requires trading rules that balance the interests of all stakeholders.”

The report, Rethinking Personal Data: Strengthening Trust, outlines three steps stakeholders can take to overcome challenges such as personal data ownership and how to protect individual privacy:

Upgrade protection and security: Focus on how to protect privacy and secure personal data against intentional and unintentional security breaches and misuse

Agree rights and responsibilities for using data: Establish consensus on rights, responsibilities, and permissions for use of personal data that recognise the importance of context and the need to balance the interests of multiple stakeholders

Drive accountability and enforcement: Hold organisations accountable for protecting and securing personal data and using it in accordance with the rights and established permissions for trusted flow

“The borderless flow of personal data requires individuals, business leaders, and policymakers to all coordinate in innovative ways to unlock long-term value,” said Alan Marcus, senior director of IT and telecommunications at the World Economic Forum. “Critical to this will be developing ways to hold organisations accountable for securing data and living within the agreed rules.”

The issue of healthcare data in particular is one that has been gaining momentum among European policy makers.

Earlier this month a report from the EU's eHealth Task Force called for European politicians to act quickly to put a new legal framework in place to deal with the “explosion of health data”.

The Task Force is led by Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who said European healthcare needs a “fundamental re-organisation” just to make use of current information technologies.

The region, which has an increasing proportion of elderly people, faces tough questions on how to ensure healthcare is affordable and still keep up with the latest medical advances, as well as how to provide high quality healthcare across the region to an increasingly mobile population.

“[The] solutions are often not medical at all, but rather deal with how in the future we will need to treat data, privacy, research as well as the physician/patient relationship,” Ilves said.

“Since not only EU citizens but also their data move across borders, we require an EU approach, where we harmonise our legislation so everyone can operate using the same rules.”

31st May 2012

From: Marketing

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