Could doctors be the key to trust in the biometrics machine?
A new Pew Charitable Trusts study into Americans’ thoughts about sharing their medical data holds a surprising clue in the biometric privacy puzzle.
A clear majority of Pew survey respondents said they would trust their health providers recording their fingerprint biometrics or giving them a unique digital ID code in order to synchronize their records across the many databases that exist today.
Doing so would presumably reduce errors and improve medical system response times.
Research has uncovered no other profession in the United States that is as trusted by individuals with capturing, much less managing, their biometric information.
Policymakers could save themselves some time and heat by working with doctors in a way that benefits providers, patients and government itself.
Almost two-thirds of respondents are comfortable with using a fingerprint to link their health records, and smaller majorities expressed support for iris or face biometrics. A total of 77 percent of patients would use one biometric option or another. Pew also breaks down biometrics comfort levels by ethnicity, with white people showing a higher comfort level than others.
Those ready to trust their providers outnumbered those who would prefer to wall off their data, even if it meant receiving poorer care.
Naturally, most everyone wants more data security along with the convenience of access and sharing. But not everyone surveyed knew the risks they take right now by using health-related apps.
According to Pew, a third of respondents reported being at least very concerned about the security of their health data stored in downloaded apps. But it turns out that consumers need to be educated in this matter.
When researchers told them that federal health privacy regulations do not protect that data, two-thirds expressed alarm. An app’s terms of service, the least-read content after lawn-care mailers, often is the only restriction on what happens to the data.
The report, which, like most Pew work, is well worth reading, also discovered that the majority of respondents — including Republicans — want more federal spending to strengthen patient-matching processes.
Eighty-two percent of Democrats support that action. Two-thirds of independents agree. A bare majority of Republicans — 51 percent — see a role here for Washington, D.C., too.