Health systems enabled by new information and communications technologies are discussed in this paper. The emergence of mobile communication systems, health information processing systems, and e-health portfolios with embedded tele-medicine monitoring and first aid devices creates a new paradigm for mobile health and home-care systems. Of course, this trend also brings to light new issues related to personal privacy and data security within these systems.
Kotz, Avancha, and Baxi start with the premise that several conceptual privacy frameworks exist, and provide brief information on privacy frameworks for healthcare information systems. After presenting the basic conceptual privacy frameworks, the authors describe their reason for choosing the common framework from the Markle Foundation as the basis for the special privacy framework that aims to cover issues in mobile health and home-care systems. The privacy properties are evaluated briefly for the purposes of data acquisition, storage, and communication, with regard to the patient’s role, rights, and control possibilities. These statements are declared within the dedicated privacy framework of a mobile health and home-care system.
The authors presume that there is fairly broad agreement on general principles, but there is room for reasonable disagreement on some of the details, especially in mobile and home-care systems. They conclude that a high-quality mobile health system should protect privacy and data integrity. Thus, they derive several additional properties and add the necessary integrity, availability, and auditability properties. Since the mobile health system consists of communications over open networks, the authors state some additional points that should be included in any privacy framework. To fully achieve all privacy properties within mobile health systems, some problems must be solved--the authors stress eight additional research areas.
It is obvious that healthcare quality should be embedded into distributed diagnosis and home healthcare systems that mostly rely on mobile telecommunications networks exploited by patients with mobile phones and digital medical devices. The patient’s fundamental right to privacy must also be guaranteed in every system design, but this notion is not clearly defined or evaluated within this paper. The paper contains relevant, timely references, as well as issues open for further research. Those working on mobile health systems deployment should read this paper.