Sunday, March 13, 2011
In this article, I argue that treating patient data as private property precludes forming comprehensive databases required for many of its most important public health and safety uses. Private ownership will also allow data monopolies that will increase the price of data and limit competition in the market for derived services. I propose that federal law require providers, medical facilities and insurers to report key patient data in anonymized and de-identified form to public authorities, which will create aggregate databases to promote public health, patient safety, and research. Public authorities should also make this data available for private entities to develop data-derived services, subject to public oversight. As we shall see, there is precedent for federal and state governments requiring reporting of data.