LifeBase is a new lifestyle data aggregation service that aims to improve the health and well-being of the Irish population using Big Data. LifeBase allows consumers to control their own information; information which LifeBase has collected on their behalf from a range of stakeholders. It is essentially an electronic application through which individuals can access, manage and share their health and lifestyle information in a private, secure and confidential environment. With the permission of the individual, LifeBase will distribute user’s information safely with those who plan health and social care services, as well as other approved researchers and organisations.
Why do we need this service?
Individuals often visit a range of medical professionals over the course of their lifetime, for instance; a GP, a hospital, and various community services. At present, the healthcare system is largely segregated. This poses potential threats to the quality of care and efficiency of the system. According to Hamilton (2014), poor or inefficient communication has been cited as a major source of medical error that can result in unnecessary patient deaths and injuries and significant waste of scarce healthcare resources. By linking pertinent information, we can offer a range of benefits such consistency of care quality to the individual, as well as assessing macro level trends which may require more HSE investment. Records are combined in a secure, encrypted system in order to protect identities. Strict rules are in place to protect privacy, thus details that could be used to identify a person, such as name and address, will be removed before the information is made available to the third parties.
How will it work?
The service centres on the concept that a LifeBase device (initially a chip-and-pin card) issued by Lifebase, will store aspects of a person’s healthcare information and re-distribute various degrees of this information to the government, insurance companies, hospitals, and even relay it to the individuals themselves. The chip-and-pin card will, in time, embrace changes in technology and become more technologically advanced.
As paper records are replaced with the electronic LifeBase system, users will be able to share data with multiple doctors, emergency departments, renew prescriptions, manage their fitness, diet, or a chronic disease such as diabetes, and charitably donate data to a research organisation. The service will be easily accessible via a personal webpage, similar to online banking. The actors will have various levels of authority and access as regards the information, ranging from ‘full access’ to ‘very limited access’.