Achieving digital health transformation through the creation of a fully interoperable data ecosystem is nirvana for health systems around the world. 

In particular, the recently published New Zealand Health and Disability System Review highlighted the lack of sufficient connection between data and systems as one impediment to achieving this vision in Aotearoa. But with a fully integrated and interoperable healthcare system comes a crucial component: data sharing. It’s impossible to achieve the kind of ideal we envisage without provision for data sharing.

Interoperability = data sharing + security

However, with data sharing comes the profound responsibility for protecting the detailed personal health information of thousands, if not millions, of patients. A recent article published in The Lancet revealed that there is significant public concern regarding the risks involved in data sharing. In particular, when, why and how health data are shared in the context of data sharing for contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The problem is the risks posed by data sharing 

The COVID-19 public health emergency has undeniably demonstrated the value in data sharing – arguably, New Zealand owes its globally lauded pandemic response to the rapid collection, analysis, modelling and reporting of health data; reporting that our own data science team has contributed to. Such a swift and effective public health response simply could not be achieved without data sharing of the highest security and privacy.

Orion Health Director of Research and CEO of Precision Driven Health, Dr Kevin Ross, has written about the importance of collecting and sharing good quality health data, arguing that the risk to privacy is a legitimate concern, but that it shouldn’t preclude us from pursuing this ideal:  

“Asking our health providers to act without good data is like telling someone not to wear glasses because they could get broken. It lowers the quality of care they can offer and allows pre-existing problems to worsen.”

Dr Kevin Ross, Director of Research, Orion Health

The solution is robust privacy measures

The solution to this problem is, of course, robust and rigorous privacy and security measures. Orion Health products, solutions and services are trusted, and comply with the regional privacy laws of countries in which we operate, such as the GDPR in Europe and HIIPA in the US.

Our Privacy Principles ensure our products, solutions and services are developed and built around these standards, which means they are private and secure by design. For example, this type of advanced privacy implementation provides granular access to information based on user roles and the sensitivity of the data. Functionality like this means that the risk of precious health data being accessible to anyone except those who truly need it is hugely reduced.  

Interested in learning more about Orion Health’s Privacy Principles?