According to MIT Technology Review, a new software tool developed by computer scientists at the University of Illinois could give people more control over how their personal health information is shared between doctors and medical institutions and helps improve the security and privacy of health data.
Today, if you were to get care from a new doctor outside of your usual healthcare provider, you are essentially a blank slate to them unless you request your data. In this case your entire record becomes available to them, and many patients are wary of oversharing.
The new tool can figure out which parts of a record may inadvertently reveal aspects of a patient’s medical history. The idea is that as data-sharing proposals advance, the patient would decide what parts of his or her record to keep private. A clinician would get advice from the technology on how to amend the record to ensure that this occurs.
The new software bases its recommendations on a machine-learning analysis of other medical records. This reveals what details could be associated with things like mental health episodes, past drug abuse, or a diagnosis of STDs when the record is shared with another doctor. The tool could eventually automatically remove those additional details to keep it confidential.
One drawback is that giving patients the ability to redact their shared records could make it more difficult for doctors to treat them than if they received the whole record. However, receiving some date is better than receiving no data.