Medical database privacy

TechCrunch | 2/12/2019 | Staff
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Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler is a Senior Fellow and head of the Democracy in the Information Age Project at The Israel Democracy Institute’s.

In August 2016, the Australian government released to the public a data set containing the medical billing history of nearly three million persons: every procedure they had undergone or prescription they had received. Needless to say, their names and all other identifying features had been redacted.

Weeks - Group - Researchers - University - Melbourne

Nevertheless, within a few weeks a group of researchers at the University of Melbourne discovered how easy it was to re-identify the individuals in this ostensibly anonymous data set and extract their medical history. The researchers did this by using information readily available on the internet.

The media coverage of their paper bordered on hysteria; the Australian government was forced to remove the data set from its website — but not before it had been downloaded nearly 1,500 times.

Israel - March - Government - National - Digital

In Israel in March 2018, the government decided to adopt a National Digital Health plan in order to exploit a rare Israeli asset — an extraordinary volume of computerized healthcare information, on a scale available in very few countries. Over the next five years, the Israeli government intends to invest more than 250 million dollars on collaboration between the Israeli healthcare system and corporations, startups and international investors.

The use of big data and its analysis by machine learning and artificial intelligence offer unparalleled prospects for improving medical care: first of all, in the area of predictive medicine, including early diagnosis and disease prevention; second, with regard to decision-support systems that produce more accurate diagnoses than human physicians can; and third — precision medicine. There is good reason why this market has become a goldmine, with annual revenues of billions of dollars.

Government - Decision - Implications

What is surprising is that the government’s decision, despite its broad economic implications and the significant...
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