Health leaders: Increase data use to improve patient care

Day 2 of the 2013 Health Privacy Summit Thursday felt timely as news broke of the National Security Administration using a program called PRISM to extract user data from major tech companies like Google and Facebook. Healthcare technology has its own extensive security problems while the industry starts to understand the value of big data, and an expert panel offered their views at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.

In the day's first panel discussion, "The Value of Health Data Inside Healthcare," David Chao (right), Chief Technology Officer at the Washington, D.C.-based Advisory Board, said that the status quo in healthcare delivery today is not acceptable.

"It's obvious to everyone," Chao said. "We need to improve outcomes."

To that end, Chao said, when the right questions are asked, data can "pop" and be "provocative."

Anil Jain (left), Chief Medical Information Officer of Explorys, a secure software platform that allows healthcare systems to aggregate and manage big data, called the "transformation gap" in healthcare real. Data, Jain said, happens to be the way doctors and CIOs get transparency on what's really happening.

"We have to balance the value the information brings with the privacy and safety of patients," he said. "Patients need to understand it's not data for the sake of data, but so we can create increasing value and safety."

David Muntz (right), Principal Deputy National Coordinator at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, said that while everyone at the summit probably shares his passion for privacy in healthcare, he can see the positive side of increased information sharing.

Muntz, in particular, spoke about the importance of making patients the "custodian of record" with regard to privacy.

"I think that's the right way to do things," he said. "[Health information exchanges] are out there to facilitate conversations and we have to figure out how to provide that info in a safe and secure manner. Patient advocacy is critical."