Healthcare

Microsoft Health Exec Calls For More Transparency Of Patient Data

Microsoft is trying to make sure patient data is open and transparent.

Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft Healthcare, wants to make sure patients have access to their healthcare records.

Lee, speaking with CNBC, said he wanted to follow the general trend set by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and make sure they keep to a standard of openness and transparency.

Lee said Nadella’s policies were enlightened and added that it was important for patients to have access to their records whenever they need. This comes amidst a battle in the industry over whether patients should have access to their data and the ability to share it with apps and companies of their choice.

In 2014, when Nadella took over, he shocked the system by pushing the company to the cloud. Lee told CNBC he wanted to follow that lead with healthcare as the company moves forward amid new Department of Health and Human Services rules that prevent companies from blocking patient information.

He said Microsoft has some suggestions for how the rules could be changed, though, such as updating 2016’s 21st Century Cares Act, which was intended to accelerate the development of new cures for diseases. Microsoft's suggested update would make records available via application programming interfaces (APIs). That would have the effect of making it quicker for healthcare developers to build appropriate apps.

One opponent of the new open rules is Judy Faulkner, the CEO of Epic Systems, whose position is that making records too transparent and open could have adverse effects for patient privacy, particularly in cases of family members who wouldn’t know their data was shared.

Microsoft does stand to benefit from the healthcare industry’s moves to make patient data more available, and more data ends up stored on the cloud, with doctors able to more easily share it between one another.

And dealing with patient data in the digital age has already proven to be a minefield, with Google coming under fire for patient data use, and Microsoft and Amazon revealed to have access to a wide swath of patient data.

Lee said he thought the process of making data available would be an important one going into the next few years, but not without its hurdles. One problem he could see was the lack of a credentialing system, which could be especially problematic for people with common names. Lee wondered how a hospital would be able to tell if they’re treating the right patient in those cases.

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