In today’s digital age, technology improvement in healthcare has changed the way we manage and access medical data. Initially it used to be paper work but now it has improved from electronic health records to wearable devices and telemedicine.
As we appreciate and welcome changes in technology especially, important questions about privacy, security, and ownership of health data have risen. Before we dig deep, lets first understand what digital health rights are so as we, understand what they are, why they matter, and how you can protect them.
What are Digital Health Rights?
Digital health rights simply mean the set of ethical, legal, and social principles that protect people’s rights in the area of their health data and the use of digital health technologies. These rights include but not limited to the control, access, and consent the users have over their health records while dealing with healthcare providers, health apps, wearable devices, and other digital health services.
The Tenets of Digital Health Rights
1. Ownership and Control
The fundamental aspect of digital health rights is the idea that people should retain ownership and control over their health data. By this we mean that each person must be in position to decide who can access their information, how its used and the purpose of the obtained information.
2. Informed Consent
Digital health rights emphasize the importance of informed consent. All people have the right to be fully informed about data collection methods, how the data is being used, who it is shared with, and consent must be obtained before any data processing occurs.
3. Privacy and Security
Regulators of health facilities must ensure that there is reasonable follow up with these facilities in line with data privacy by examining the measures in place to protect the sensitive health information from unauthorized access, breaches, and cyber-attacks.
It is a fundamental health right that every patient enjoys from transparency regarding the collection and use of their health information. Healthcare providers and digital health companies should be clear and open about their data practices, policies, and any third-party sharing hence the right to transparency
5. Data Portability
Digital health rights support the ability of individuals to easily transfer their health data between healthcare providers or platforms. This promotes patient autonomy and facilitates continuity of care.
6. Anonymization and De-identification
To protect patient privacy, digital health rights encourage the de-identification or anonymization of health data when used for research or secondary purposes.
7. Access to Personal Health Records
At all material time, people must have access to their own health records. This allows them to review and verify the accuracy of the information, which in the end creates empowerment and the people take an active role in their healthcare decisions.
Digital health rights advocate against using health data to discriminate against individuals based on their health status or other personal characteristics.
9. Education and Digital Literacy
Promoting digital literacy is crucial in empowering individuals to understand their digital health rights fully. Education ensures that patients can make informed choices and protect themselves in the digital healthcare ecosystem.
10. Accountability and Redress
Digital health rights call for accountability from healthcare providers and technology companies, ensuring that breaches of privacy or misuse of health data have appropriate redress mechanisms and consequences.
Digital health rights are an essential framework that safeguards patients’ interests and autonomy in the digital healthcare landscape. With the evolution of new ventures in technology, it is key to be alert and vigilant in protecting our health records and understanding our rights. By advocating for transparent data practices, informed consent, and robust security measures, we can embrace the benefits of digital health while ensuring our privacy and control over our most sensitive information. As patients, it is our responsibility to be informed advocates for our digital health rights, demanding ethical and responsible use of our health data to shape a healthier and more secure digital healthcare future.