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Dr Ejim Mark: Challenges With and Protecting the Increasing Amount of Health Data

Not all health data is collected in a similar manner, so analyzing such data can be challenging for researchers, explained Ejim E. Mark, MD, MPH, MBA, CEO and founder of Access Healthcare Foundation.

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Digital health can improve care around the world, but if used poorly could exacerbate existing disparities, said Ejim E. Mark, MD, MPH, MBA, CEO and founder of Access Healthcare Foundation.


With increasing amounts of health data available as a result of new digital technologies what challenges are there for providers and researchers to use that data in meaningful ways?

The data is not being collected in a similar manner, so you have a lot of data sets that are not connected. Because of that, analyzing such data can be challenging for researchers. But, looking into the future with things like artificial intelligence, or looking into things that analytics can actually do, we hope that we keep gathering data in anticipation that one day we can integrate all that data, and be able to get better analysis around it.

Are consumers’ personal data being adequately protected as more digital technologies collect and share health information?

We try as much as we can. The reality is that there are breaches all the time, and it’s not about just single breaches, there can be breaches from the provider side and the user side, as well. So, being able to stay on top of protecting or securing this data is something we should always think about. We shouldn’t put it at the back of our mind, but we should be thinking about that because I’ve heard about 2000 attacks in hospitals each day.

As systems are becoming more interconnected, how can they help protect that data, while still allowing it to flow freely?

You have to determine who owns the data, and where the data resides, because that’s important. If the data resides in the cloud, or if it’s in servers that are within the hospital systems, than those are different protections that are needed, and that’s why it’s imperative to know who owns the data and where it resides, and provide adequate security around that. 

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