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Marketing Tribune, 24 April 2014: 'Nationwide campaign to preserve medical privacy'

Patients should be able to decide for themselves who gets access to their medical records. This is the only way to prevent, in a time of increasing digitisation, medical data of Dutch citizens from being 'up for grabs'. An internet campaign for medical privacy should convince patients, doctors, administrators and politicians.

The campaign is an initiative of Civil Rights Protection Foundation and Privacy First Foundation and is being put out by concerned citizens. Via patients can send a letter of participation to their doctor, allowing them to specify the conditions under which the exchange of their medical data should take place.

Who has access to which data?
'Current systems by which healthcare providers share medical data are unsafe,' the initiators believe. 'When a patient gives permission to share their medical data, for example through the National Switch Point, their data becomes accessible to potentially tens to hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers. These can often access the medical record without prior checking by the patient or his doctor.'

Medical confidentiality
'Patient consent for these systems does not restrict access to the medical record. Expansion of access with additional healthcare providers in the future is possible, and often foreseen. Moreover, access to the medical record is set up in such a way that the doctor can no longer control who gets access to what data. Healthcare providers can thus hardly personally guarantee their medical professional secrecy and the confidentiality of patient data anymore,' the action group argues.

Accessibility of care
'The risk of confidential data about a person's physical and mental condition coming under the eyes of unauthorised persons through carelessness or malicious intent increases as the degree of access increases,' the campaign group believes. 'If doctors do not have direct control and visibility over what happens to medical data, patients in turn can no longer be confident that what they discuss with their doctor will not come under the eyes of third parties. This undermines the trust relationship between doctor and patient and thus threatens the accessibility of care.'

Control back with doctor and patient
A system that maintains doctor and patient control is "technically and practically feasible", according to the campaign group. The campaign argues specific consent is a necessary condition for sharing medical data. Here, doctor and patient make proper agreements on data sharing. 'Specific consent is essential for ensuring trust in and accessibility of care. In this way, doctor and patient maintain control over the exchange of data.'

According to the action group, politicians and administrators need to realise that even when data is exchanged digitally, the patient's right to say who can view which data must and can be guaranteed. And that an efficient exchange of data between healthcare providers involved in treatment - but not with more healthcare providers than necessary - is perfectly possible,' the initiators add.

Mission Statement
A Mission Statement, signed by the Dutch Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and Bits of Freedom, among others, calls on policymakers, administrators and healthcare ICT suppliers to enable specific consent and make it the guiding principle in healthcare communications again. 'With systems like the National Switch Point, this is not possible,' the participants stress.

The campaign was made possible by financial support from Civil Rights Protection Foundation, Privacy First Foundation and individual donors. The website is sponsored by Greenhost."

Source:, 24 April 2014.