Patient privacy in a mobile world

by TrustLaw
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:21 GMT

REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

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A United Nations study shows that more people have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet, and the World Bank believes mobile phone ownership will outpace basic infrastructure in many developing countries. In most rural areas of the world, people are increasingly relying on mobile technology to access basic health services.

In Tanzania, the government uses mobile technology to track malaria treatments in 5,000 clinics across the country, and in Rwanda, the health ministry uses mobile phones to monitor maternal and child mortality.

The so-called mHealth market is poised to grow to approximately $23 billion by 2017, but protection of patients’ privacy is seen as a barrier to its expansion. 

We connected lawyers at Baker & McKenzie and Merck with the mHealth Alliance to research patient privacy in mobile health. The study provided the first ever global analysis of privacy legislation while looking at crucial issues such as data protection, data transfer, and data ownership.

“Mobile health has the potential to improve healthcare on a global scale. This research provides important guidance as to how this can be achieved, while still protecting patient privacy.” - Roy Birnbaum, Merck Corporate Legal Counsel