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Who Is The Real Owner Of Your Health Data?

September 26, 2019

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The healthcare industry is often faced with a question as to who really holds the ownership of medical health records/data: the patient or the physicians? The physician creates health records, which however are based on the happenings of a patient. Therefore, the question still remains – who actually owns your health data?

The original physical medical/health record usually belongs to the physician who created it as well as the facility where the record was created. However, the information or data gathered within this original medical record is owned by the patient. In many countries, it is mandatory by law for all the healthcare facilities to maintain the original medical record of patient with care, and protect it from loss, damage, alteration, and unauthorised use.

On the other hand, there is a rapid transition occurring today from paper to electronic records, which has created new opportunities for sharing information among physicians and patients as well as with third parties. In the wake of rising healthcare data being generated by patient visits together with data generated on mobile as well as wearable or home devices, the Government of India has also put forth certain guidelines for maintaining patient electronic health records. Additionally, the ever-expanding mobile revolution has intensified consumers’ expectations about data sharing with physicians, including those generated by mobile health apps. However, this shift is happening so quickly for either physicians or the regulatory bodies concerned with medical records to keep up. In any form, the ownership of your healthcare data always remains with you!

Patients today already have unique perceptions about their own health data and the healthcare providers or doctors still have certain legal rights and duties related to the protection of that health record. Meaning, the healthcare providers, after accessing your health data, still remain the experts when it comes to diagnosing and providing a suitable treatment plan for your health condition. Furthermore, a patient-centred approach to data possession and management can substantially change the way the population health management is handled at the moment, because such approach can help patients to manage their own health and expressively involve in their treatment plan with their doctors. Having control of their health data allows patients to become more engaged, and only such patients can be healthier. After all, you know your body best!

To sum up, in the healthcare world, you, as a patient, have every right to ownership along with the legal privacy, security and accuracy of your health data. Therefore, once these data are captured and documented in written or electronic form, and since your physician owns the platform where those data are recorded and stored, the physician then technically gains the property right of possession of data. Basically, your physician then becomes the legal guardian of your health data with specific legal rights and duties concerning possession and protection of that health data. Again, the real ownership of your health data always remains with you!