Finland reviews medical records protocols to ensure compliance with EU privacy laws

JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE

A file photo dated 01 July 2013 showing a person holding cables inside a server room.

Finland reviews medical records protocols to ensure compliance with EU privacy laws


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Authorities in Finland are reviewing national data storage rules to ensure compliance with new European Union standards that dictate citizens’ ownership over their own data, the yle news agency reports.

New EU regulations aims t harmonization of data storage procedures and empower citizens’ ownership of their personal data.

One of the first challenges at hand are health and social service records. Currently, the national system entails the data base of the state-owned administrator of social benefits (Kela), linked to health centers and service providers. That also acts as a repository of historical data for each health center and service provider.

Since 2011, Finland’s National Archive Service issued an order of permanent health data retention, which has both privacy and cost implications.

Finland aims now at reviewing its national data storage protocols to enforce the citizens’ right to object to health data retention. In effect, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is objecting to the National Archives policy of holding individual data in perpetuity or 12 years after their death.

The new policy is now the institution of a right to “be forgotten,” unless data retention has proven medical/scientific, historic or statistical value and the individual consents.

For private providers, individuals not only have the right to authorize data retention but also to determine who has access to such data. Only the patient’s GP and treatment personnel are privy to their personal health data. Although the public system has mainstreamed such practices, there are still considerations of data-sharing that may be to the patient’s best interests, such as enhancing the ability of the system to recognize new medical challenges, avoid unnecessary tests, trials and studies.

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