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With sponsorship from the Bernstein Center and the Leadership Development Grants, I recently attended the Digital Medicine Conference, hosted by Node Health. The norms and standards of the digital health space are still being defined, which makes it an exciting time to be in the field. It was fascinating to be in one room with so many industry leaders that have diverse perspectives on three main themes: innovation, evidence, and transformation. Node Health operates as a connector between the different “nodes” in healthcare, including systems, innovators, medical societies, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and even patients. The conference emphasized the need for increased collaboration across all the different players in digital health. By working cross functionally, the healthcare ecosystem will be able to adapt to new innovations efficiently and effectively, ultimately providing the most value to patients and society. The current regulatory infrastructure was designed for traditional pharmaceuticals and medical devices, however as apps based on artificial intelligence evolve , there needs to be a new framework for regulatory approvals to ensure patient safety and drive utilization of technology.
Healthcare data ownership will continue to be an ethical debate for future healthcare leaders. Currently, in all states except New Hampshire, patients do not own their own data, and healthcare providers legally need to maintain that data. As Google and other tech companies begin to develop Personal Health Records, these projects hinge on the fact that patients will be able to retrieve their data from their doctors and integrate them together. One argument made for healthcare providers acting as stewards of their data is that it is important for a licensed professional to help patients interpret their results and provide council on treatment, especially for complex conditions. The other side of the argument is that by improving interoperability, transparency, and the flow of healthcare data between facilities and through population health tools, individual patient data will aggregate to provide population-level insights allowing providers to deliver more efficient and effective care. However, there are risks with sharing data freely—hospitals could sell data to drug developers for a profit and providers are worried about liability if there is full transparency into patient’s treatment plans.
In keeping with the conference’s spirit of the collaboration , my key takeaway is that the future leaders will have to continue to work together to understand the various risks and rewards regarding data, and they will be responsible for providing education to those groups to explain the implications. Additionally, regulations will be required with input from industry leaders to create a set of guidelines to foster data sharing, while protecting the rights of both patients and providers.
For more information, please visit our Student Leadership and Ethics Board homepage.