Should de-identified health records be freely available online? Harvard’s HealthMap team uses an AI-driven approach to map the COVID-19 spread using online data (social media, news stories, crowdsourcing, etc.). Similar to the Canadian BlueDot firm that first detected it even prior to the world’s medical associations and governments, HealthMap begs the ethical question: is it wrong to withhold de-identified medical records from being freely available online if doing so would allow even faster and more accurate research to save lives? (including catching pandemics before they even become such?) Would withholding them even constitute a deliberate harm particularly if patients do not have greater privacy protection compared to if their de-identified data is available to potentially save them and others?
GSAS Chief Data Scientist (Dominique Monlezun, MD, PhD, PhD, MPH) is AI+MD: our lead voice fighting for patients through ethical and effective AI, from the world’s first doctoral-level dual-trained physician-data scientist and bioethicist.