A hospital with one patient

Representing the individual

Part 5 of 5

This is part V, the final section of our blog, 'A hospital with one patient'. In previous sections we defined a privacy use case for the (Privacy Enhancing Technology) PET industry to standardize around, by defining clear terms and concepts which could be applied for more complex use cases.

The purpose of this blog was not to propose a specific solution to the challenge of a hospital with one patient. Our goal was to move past use cases, towards broad categories of market deployable PET solutions that would satisfy the needs of enterprises and regulators.

PET research began in the early 1900s, before the term 'PET' was coined. Researchers at the time would have struggled to imagine the growth of the Internet, or privacy standards like GDPR.

Where PET tech began, where it is now and where it will be in the future will be driven largely by how the markets direct us. But we should take a moment to understand what the markets are demanding of PET today.

We can argue that the purpose of PET is to enable the creation of data cooperatives and ecosystems. Amongst the data safety requirements and the kaleidoscope of algorithms and mathematics proofs, we can easily forget our purpose.

We all have the right to privacy. As technology evolves, as the Internet grows, as services bloom and fade and unicorns come and go, a question has to be asked: ‘who represents the individual’?

That is the real purpose of PET today, to represent the individual.

While the term 'privacy' does not evoke a sense of the innovation potential we hope to achieve through PET, it does distill in us a singular purpose. 'Privacy Enhancing Technology for the Individual' is a mouthful but is perhaps a better description of what we are all trying to build.

We imagine that the hospital in our use case wants to participate in a Smart Health ecosystem. What does that participation look like. More specifically, what is the range of flexibility for our hospital's participation. This is the crux of what the PET industry needs to answer.

The range of flexibility offered to the hospital is a reflection of the patient's ability to get the best care while maintaining control over their privacy.

By not actively encouraging flexible participation, we set ourselves along a path of customized chaos.

To break this paradigm, we need those basic essentials all industries have:

- A reference architecture
- Interfaces and components
- Interoperability guidelines
- Compliance and verification standards
- Standard operating procedures

These concepts, while not novel, are foreign to the PET industry. This not only proves to be an obstacle for enterprises and solution providers, but also complicates a regulators ability to provide governance and guidance, which simply adds to the chaos.

We've proposed definitions for common terms and provided concepts and mechanisms for constructive exploration of a complex use case, 'A Hospital with One Patient'.

This is the first step in a long journey that we hope we can take together.

There are many open questions, even in our simple use case, that are best answered through collaborative consensus.

We hope you have enjoyed this series of 5 articles. Please contact Devr at info@devr.com to discuss any aspect of what has been presented in this series. To subscribe to our monthly newsletter, click here.

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