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Protecting Informational Health Privacy

Personal data protection is a concerning issue in almost all spheres of human life because most modern technologies can track nearly all people’s activities. However, medical data privacy and confidentiality are a particularly complex and significant issue, since the current policy leaves many gaps and controversies. This topic of protecting informational health privacy was discussed in a lecture by Mark Rothstein that I’ve reviewed and want to discuss in this paper.

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I chose Mark A. Rothstein’s lecture “Is Patient Privacy Dead?” held on March 20th, 2018, with the Boston University School of Public Health’s support. Mark Rothstein presented a lecture in which he examined the emergence of the first policy on the protection of medical data of patients, its basic terms and differences, as well as the current state policy. Rothstein focused on the HIPPA Act and the disadvantages and advantages of the system. For example, Rothstein noted that physics could legally share confidential information at the request of third parties in many cases, but at the same time, psychiatrists cannot warn the police or the patient’s relatives of the danger of his or her condition (“Cathy Shine,” 2018). In addition, the speaker highlighted the information security issues of the 21st century, such as the absence of a united and secured database and the availability of data for mobile applications (“Cathy Shine,” 2018). Rothstein concluded his speech by answering questions from the audience.

Rothstein discussed current health data security concerns; however, he almost does not cover the challenge of creating a new policy. For example, a speaker said that hospitals in different cities could not exchange electronic patient records (“Cathy Shine,” 2018). In most cases, this fact is true because only 30% of hospitals have achieved interoperability (Rapaport, 2017). This deficiency means a delay in making a diagnosis, re-ordering tests stored in another system, and other procedures, which bring higher costs for the state. Consequently, the relevant health policy issue is the creation of a secure unified electronic medical records system.

Another problem is that many applications have access to customer’s confidential data. The speaker doesn’t mention HIPAA regulations in this matter, probably, because the privacy and security rules only apply to “covered legal entities” and their business partners, so it is almost useless (Terry & Gunter, 2018). However, the privacy of medical applications is partially controlled by the US Food and Drug Administration, which has created regulations for medical apps related to healthcare devices (O’Loughlin et al., 2019). This fact means that this policy should only be revised and expanded for all applications requiring patient medical data.

In conclusion, this event and lecture by Rothstein demonstrate that the current healthcare issue is the revision and creation of healthcare data security policy. At the same time, this issue has two key points. First, it is necessary to develop a regulation on the creation of a unified and secure system of electronic records in the country and its implementation in all hospitals. Second, it is required to revise and expand regulations for medical applications to ensure the privacy of user data. Such policy changes will increase the efficiency of healthcare and reduce government spending, as well as help people safely monitor their health conditions through mobile applications and respond to adverse changes in time.


Cathy Shine Lecture 2018. (2018). Web.

O’Loughlin, K., Neary, M., Adkins, E. C., & Schueller, S. M. (2018). Reviewing the data security and privacy policies of mobile apps for depression. Internet interventions, 15, 110–115. Web.

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Rapaport, L. (2017). Few U.S. hospitals can fully share electronic medical records. Reuters. Web.

Terry, N. P., & Gunter, T. D. (2018). Regulating mobile mental health apps. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 36(2), 136-144. Web.

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