Joseph Kvedar: Benefits of health data sharing outweigh security risks

Mobile security

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Joseph Kvedar

The risk vs. reward of sharing personal health data is a trade-off that Partners HealthCare’s Joseph Kvedar says he’s willing to make to ensure better care at lower costs.

Kvedar, who serves as vice president of connected health at Partners, argues in a recent post to his cHealth Blog that while many people remain fearful of the consequences of increased data sharing in healthcare--as evidenced by phone calls he received while discussing connected health on a radio program--the advantages boast even greater potential for consumers.

“What we unfortunately don’t talk about is what consumers have to gain by sharing their data,” Kvedar says. “For instance, the same information that can be used to create highly personalized programs to help people stay healthier and happier can also be a key factor in improving efficiencies and reducing healthcare costs. ... Yes there is always some risk sharing personal data--whether online banking or communicating with your healthcare provider. But there are also rewards.”

High-profile cybersecurity incidents in the industry only add to consumers' worries that their information will be the next to be compromised, Kvedar says. To quell such fears, he says that privacy policies for all entities in healthcare--from technology developers to providers and payers--must be easily available and translated from confusing “jargon” to understandable language.

Additionally, Kvedar says, consumers must realize that there is “no such thing as a free app.” Either private information will be sold to marketers, he says, or fees will be charged up front.

“Some will opt for the free service with the understanding that they give up some privacy,” Kvedar says. “Others will want a fee-based service that will preserve their privacy.”