E-Health at Home: Legal, Privacy and Security Aspects

E-Health at Home: Legal, Privacy and Security Aspects

Juan José Andrés Gutiérrez (Telefónica R&D, Parque Tecnológico de Boecillo, Spain), Esteban Pérez-Castrejón (Telefónica R&D, Spain), Ana Isabel Calvo-Alcalde (University of Valladolid, Spain), Jesús Vegas (University of Valladolid, Spain) and Miguel Ángel González (University of Valladolid, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-975-0.ch026


Chapter 26 describes the present situation of E-Health at home taking into account legal, privacy and security aspects. As a first step, some background and a general description of E-Health activities at home are presented. In order to have a general idea of the current status of this field, we analyze the general legal situation in terms of ICT for E-Health and several related issues on data mining privacy and information recovery aspects. The topics covered include the taxonomy for secondary uses of clinical data and a description of the role that controlled vocabularies play. Concerning the provision of E-Health at home, the chapter revises the current situation in the digital home evolution including topics on sensors and sanitary devices. Furthermore the challenge of digital identity at home and the differences between the domestic environment and the professional one are considered. Finally some ethical considerations under the "InfoEthics" concept and future lines of work are addressed.
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E-Health is an emerging field, which arises from the intersection of health informatics and communications. E-Health refers to the use of modern information and communication technologies to meet the needs of citizens, patients, healthcare professionals, healthcare providers, and policy makers (“Ministerial Declaration,” 2003). In a broader sense, the term includes not only technical development and new business models, but also a change in our way of thinking, and the compromise of enhancing health both locally and in the widest possible scope by means of information and communications technologies (Eysenbach, 2001). Regarding these considerations a huge amount of medical data is generated, stored, treated... and the medical traditional law must be adapted to this new situation.

E-Health services are being offered more and more outside the traditional clinical environment. As it is shown in Figure 1, the main reasons for this fact are a better quality of life, primarily for patients with a chronic condition, and the need to reduce costs when providing health services for the elderly. Very old people (aged over 80) are the fastest growing population group and this puts the health systems — the way they are designed today — under a strong pressure. Little by little this shift is placing patients’ homes as the centre of the E-Health service provision.

Figure 1.

Evolution of E-health services provision

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