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Data-Driven Healthcare: How Analytics and BI are Transforming the Industry by Laura B. Madsen

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CHAPTER 8 Data Privacy and Confidentiality: A Brave New World

Imagine that you walk into a nice restaurant, one that was recommended by someone you trust. You sit down and wait patiently as you get your water, bread, and order taken. Eventually you finish your meal, and you request the bill, handing over your credit card to expedite the process. The server comes back with your credit card and says simply, “We will get back to you.” They've taken all of your information, and you will be notified of the amount at a later date. Imagine then that the servers, bartenders, dishwashers, perhaps even some of their suppliers discuss you at length. They discuss your preparedness to pay and perhaps even some psychological attributes about you. Eventually you get a bill after it's been reviewed by yet another entity, and you pay it with little knowledge of all of the places your data touched.

That's healthcare. Granted, our physicians are much better trained than your average waitstaff, but the premise is the same. They provide a service for you and about you, yet your access to the information about that service is owned by them. Doesn't that seem odd to you? Can you name one other industry where that's true?

There was a time when doctors didn't tell patients anything. You could have some horrible disease, on your deathbed, and they wouldn't tell you. That was true for me, and it wasn't that many years ago. I had been suffering, in pain, asking for help, and the doctors all just nodded ...

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