“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates, Greek physician (460 BC – 377 BC)
The “Right to Privacy” is a fundamental human right as declared by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted after WWII that has been adopted around the world. When this Declaration was adopted in 1948, the world had not yet imagined our new digital age. Recently, however, some prominent leaders who remember the excesses of totalitarian regimes, have started to work to sharpen public opinion and remind us that our privacy is indeed a basic human right. The right to privacy and control of data about our bodies is essential to preserving the dignity and respect of each individual, as well as trust in the medical community. In the digital age, it will become the fiduciary duty of each doctor to protect the digital data privacy rights for each patient as a basic human right.
We are entering a new technological era for healthcare where we must commit to new standards of patient data privacy, data use transparency, and personal data control. We have outlined five key reasons why this general topic is now more important than ever. It will take many years of work on the part of academics, healthcare systems, industry, and government to fully assimilate all associated ethical, societal, technological, and business considerations to assure that we manage patient data in the right way.