DeepMind is being slammed by the court for using NHS patients’ health data in 2015.
Over the past couple of decades, the healthcare sector has changed tremendously. With new diseases emerging, finding the right drugs and creating preventive medications has become novel in the industry. Eventually, artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies have come into the picture. Today, AI and robotics are doing magic in the healthcare sphere. Owing to the increasing usage of technology, healthcare data protection has also become a hot topic for discussion. Recently, DeepMind was caught red-handed when the public came to know the company used NHS patients’ health data back in 2015.
When Covid-19 came into existence, institutions started recording more health data than ever before. Since new technologies and techniques have become the core of medical operations, the data privacy threat to our information is also changing. Today, hackers are using advanced tools to get their hands on health data. But what if healthcare institutions are having a loose end that spills data outside. That is what happened in the DeepMind and NHS case.
Taking a Legal Stand in Healthcare Data Protection
Healthcare institutions and companies that are working to develop medical tools are always on the edge. Thye have to balance between healthcare data protection and delivering quality services and equipment.
Governments and central organizations are coming up with frameworks like HIPAA and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to safeguard patient information and ensure data privacy. HIPAA first came to effect in 1996 when patient data was solely recorded in papers. However, as storing data has shifted from paper records to EHRs, the framework was also revised to house the growing need for data privacy. Further, certain guidelines in HIPAA also impose regulations on tech companies dealing with healthcare data. However, AI experts criticize that there is constant uncertainty in the regulations, which could lead to data privacy breaches.
But generally, these regulations create a strong framework for companies and people who handle, use, or transmit patient information. HIPAA also stresses that only authorized professionals should be allowed to get their hands on sensitive healthcare data. Owing to the increasing regulations and threat of imposing large penalties, companies are taking precautionary measures like educating the staff, restricting access to data, encrypting important data, taking off-site backup, etc.
DeepMind and NHS: The Healthcare Data Lawsuit
Google-owned DeepMind is under severe criticism for using NHS patients’ health data in 2015. The company is also facing a lawsuit for getting personal records of 1.6 million patients at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. DeepMind has claimed that the company was using the data to create a life-saving application. Streams, the application designed to identify acute kidney injury, was brought under the scanner. Currently, the app is in the process of being decommissioned.
Since the scandal was brought to light, several investigations were launched to prove that the hospital has not done enough to protect patient data. Following the severe backlash, DeepMind apologized and said the company was concerned about building tools for clinicians over the patient’s data.