May 17, 2020

Aetna International showcases the need for health to develop antimicrobial resistance strategies

Catherine Sturman
3 min
antimicrobial resistance (Getty Images)
Aetna International has called on health care providers and insurers to develop essential wellness, prevention and antimicrobial resistance strategies w...

Aetna International has called on health care providers and insurers to develop essential wellness, prevention and antimicrobial resistance strategies within the healthcare industry.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s deadliest health crises, where antimicrobial resistance has been responsible for up to 700,000 deaths per year on a global scale. If left, the annual death toll could reach 10 million by 2050, more than diseases such as cancer and have a significant impact on global economic output.

“Stemming the rising tide of antibiotic resistance will take a global, multipronged effort. The industry must become better stewards of the antibiotics we have today, whilst working to develop more antibiotics for tomorrow,” explained Dr Mitesh Patel, Medical Director at Aetna International.

“A focus on harnessing big data will inform strategies that create better care for patients as well as significantly decreasing the financial cost from antimicrobial resistance. “

Aetna International’s new whitepaper, Antibiotic resistance: Toward better stewardship of a precious medical resource, highlights the significant causes of antimicrobial resistance, alongside minimal research surrounding the development of new treatnebts to tackle this growing crisis.

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A 2014 survey of up to 1000 primary care doctors in the UK had found that 55% felt under pressure (particularly from patients), to prescribe antibiotics, even if they were not sure they were required. It has led to an increased need to raise awareness surrounding the use of antibiotics, where many still believe they can stop taking an antibiotics or course of antibiotics if they show no further signs of illness and feel better.

However, Aetna International has stated that tackling the issue will be different, dependent on each individual country. Alternate strategies will need to be adopted to therefore combat antibiotic resistance, which will be integrated and multi-sectorial.

Pharmaceutical companies are continuing to supporting the healthcare in tackling the issue. Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has recently partnered with ‘The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to develop a ‘Centre to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance’ within New Delhi, which will see the two figureheads undertake a joint venture.

“It is important to channel all necessary resources in developing, implementing and monitoring antibiotic resistance to minimise its adverse impact, which is posing a huge threat to both health and food security. Infections such as pneumonia, TB etc. are becoming difficult to treat due to decreased effectiveness arising out of irrational usage of antibiotics,” explained K. VijayRaghavan, secretary, Department of Health Research and director general, ICMR.

By working towards building new solutions to tackle the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance across India, the partners will work to raise awareness and support local governments by launching extensive training across the private and public health sector.

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Jun 24, 2021

Data de-identification - why it matters in healthcare

3 min
Riddhiman Das, co-founder and CEO of data privacy startup TripleBlind tells us why data de-identification is important in the healthcare sector

Large amounts of healthcare data is generated yet goes unused due to privacy concerns. To address this, data privacy firm TripleBlind has created Blind De-identification, a new approach that allows healthcare organisations to use patient data while eliminating the possibility of the user learning anything about the patient’s identity. 

We asked Riddhiman Das, co-founder and CEO to tell us more about data de-identification. 

Why is data de-identification important in healthcare? 
Blind De-identification allows every attribute of any given dataset to be used, even at an individual level, while being compliant to privacy laws, rules, and regulations by default.

Governments around the world are adopting global data privacy and residency laws like GDPR, which prohibit citizens’ personally identifiable information data from leaving the borders of the country. While great for data protection, data residency laws result in global silos of inaccessible data. TripleBlind allows computations to be done on enterprise-wise global data, while enforcing data residency regulations. 

In the US, HIPAA compliance has relied on what is called the Safe Harbor method, which requires removing 18 types of personal patient identifiers like names, email addresses, and medical record numbers. The Safe Harbor method can be too restrictive with the data or can leave too many indirect identifiers, which puts the patient data security at risk. Getting de-identification wrong could make an organisation liable for a costly mistake.

What does TripleBlind's solution do? 
With TripleBlind, data is legally de-identified in real time with practically 0% probability of re-identification. Our solution allows analytics on data containing personally identifiable information and protected health information  with zero possibility of re-identifying an individual from the dataset. This allows healthcare organisations to access more meaningful data, creating more accurate and less biased results.

For example, a healthcare drug researcher in a rural, predominantly white area, would only have patient data that would reflect their local population. With TripleBlind’s de-identification, they could more easily leverage third-party data from another healthcare facility in a more diverse region, creating a more complete data set that more accurately reflects the larger population. This has the possibility to create more accurate diagnoses and better drug results for more diverse populations.

How can healthcare organisations use this in practice? 
TripleBlind is blind to all data and algorithms. That means we never take possession of customer data. We only route traffic between entities, enforce permissions, and provide audit trails. The enterprise’s data remains under their control. TripleBlind does not host, copy or control their data, algorithms or other information assets, ever. 

We facilitate a connection to an encrypted version of their information assets. Our technology allows the algorithms and data to interact in an encrypted space that only exists for the duration of the operation. Organisations use their existing infrastructure, so it’s not hardware dependent.

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