Doc use of smartphones for patient photos raises security, privacy questions

The ability to snap a quick picture as part of a treatment process is coming under deeper scrutiny due to potential patient privacy violations and medical ethics concerns.

Several studies and surveys reveal physicians are increasingly taking patient photos and storing images with smartphones that also house personal images. Such activity puts patient privacy at risk, according to a report at National Post.

A survey in Canada found that almost three quarters of the surgeons responding said they store patient images on devices that also contain their own personal photos, such as vacation snaps. In addition, 25 percent of them said they had accidentally showed the photos to friends and family. Another survey, this one of ear, nose and throat surgeons in Canada, found that more than half of the 258 respondents said the photos can be accessed by others.

"Imagine this on the consent form …'Do you agree to your photograph--the photograph of your newly reconstructed face, for example--being in the phone beside your physician's baby photos?" Juliet Guichon, a University of Calgary bioethicist, tells the Post. "How many would say 'Yes?'"

It's is becoming more common for doctors to use their own devices for work-related purposes, and that is creating urgent need for healthcare providers to create robust mHealth security policies and practices, especially when it comes to BYOD.

For more information:
- read the National Post article

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