Digital healthcare data

# Behind the Scenes in Digital Healthcare: The Big Data Grab and Its Impacts on Medical Ethics

Dr. Brendan O'Brien


Dr. Rachel Lee's journey into digital healthcare began with the promise of enhanced patient care through a new electronic health records (EHR) system. However, she soon found herself at the epicenter of a silent battle - a struggle between patient care and the burgeoning interest of large corporations in big data.

This story is a microcosm of a broader trend unfolding behind the scenes in healthcare, where the ethics of patient data management clash with the commercial interests of tech giants.

The Ethical Dilemma in Patient Data Handling

As Dr. Lee integrated the new EHR system, she confronted critical ethical considerations. Trust and confidentiality, the bedrock of medical practice, seemed to be at odds with the way patient data was being utilized.

She questioned:

  • Informed Consent: Were her patients fully aware of how their data was being used?
  • Data Ownership: The software’s fine print indicated a shift in data ownership to the software provider, a concerning trend in the industry.
  • Transparency: There was a lack of clarity about how patient data was being utilized by these corporations.

The Big Data Grab: Corporates in Healthcare

Behind the scenes, as medical and nursing staff focus on patient care, a different story unfolds. Large corporations are rapidly acquiring medical data management companies, often rewriting agreements to claim ownership of the data entered into their platforms.

This practice raises alarming questions:

  • Data Monetization: How are these corporations using this data? The potential for monetization of patient information poses ethical concerns.
  • Impact on Patient Trust: If patients knew the extent of this data acquisition, would they trust their healthcare providers the same way?

The Shift in Data Ownership

Dr. Lee encountered a specific instance where a renowned EHR provider revised its service agreement, asserting ownership over patient data.

This change, mirroring trends across the industry, illustrates the evolving landscape of data ownership in healthcare.

  • Legal and Ethical Implications: The change in data ownership rights challenges both legal norms and ethical standards in healthcare.
  • Reaction from the Medical Community: Such changes have sparked discussions and debates among healthcare professionals about the sanctity of patient data.

Balancing Care and Corporate Interests

Dr. Lee’s experience is indicative of a larger conflict. While healthcare professionals strive to provide the best care, they must navigate an environment where patient data is a lucrative asset for corporate entities.

  • The Role of Policymakers: There's an urgent need for regulatory intervention to protect patient data rights.
  • Advocacy and Awareness: Healthcare professionals, like Dr. Lee, are increasingly advocating for greater transparency and ethical management of patient data.


As the healthcare industry grapples with the digital age's challenges, stories like Dr. Lee’s highlight the urgent need to address the ethical implications of big data acquisition. The commitment to patient care must extend to protecting their data, ensuring that the digital transformation of healthcare remains true to its core ethical principles.

Call to Action

This evolving situation calls for vigilance and advocacy from healthcare professionals, patients, and policymakers. It’s imperative to engage in conversations about data rights and work towards a healthcare future that respects both patient care and data privacy.

(fictitious name is used)

Read More