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What is health data?

Anna’s medical journey continues. Watch how we follow her and explain some basic concepts based on her story.
5.1
MELANIA TUDORICA: As you may remember, we saw Anna in pain during her run. It looked like she had very bad cramps. Let’s find out how she’s doing.
15.2
ANNA: Hi, this is Anna. I would like to make an appointment with my GP.
21.4
Yeah. When running this morning I had really bad cramps. I was nauseous and lightheaded still. OK. My date of birth is 8 March 1992. Last name, Petersen. All right. I will be there. Thank you. Bye.
47.3
GP: Anna, I heard you had pains in your abdomen during running. Could you explain to me exactly how that went?
53.9
ANNA: I went running, and suddenly I had really bad cramps. I still don’t feel OK. I’m very nauseous and lightheaded. I don’t know what’s wrong.
63.1
GP: OK. In that regard, I would like to check your temperature and your heart rate. Yes.
73.6
You have an elevated heart rate and also a bit of a temperature.
76.7
ANNA: Ah. Ah.
79.1
GP: What are you feeling?
80.1
ANNA: I don’t know. It’s like something is stabbing me in the stomach.
84.5
GP: When’s the last time you had your period, if I may ask?
88.5
ANNA: I don’t know. I’ve been so busy.
90.8
GP: Might there be a possibility that you’re pregnant?
94.7
ANNA: It might be. I don’t know.
97.4
GP: We could run a few tests just to make sure.
100
ANNA: OK. Let’s do it.
101
GP: And we’ll return to that later.
106.6
So, Anna, I think congratulations are in order.
109.3
ANNA: Thank you. But I’m still a little bit in shock.
111.7
GP: Yeah. And as regards your elevated heart rate and your temperature, I think it’s wise if you meet the gynaecologist. They will do some further tests just to make sure. And I’m writing you a reference letter.
140
If you pass this on to the gynaecologist they will know everything they need to know.
150.5
ANNA: Thank you so much.
151.5
GP: Take care, Anna.
160.8
RECEPTIONIST: Hi.
161.5
ANNA: Hi.
162.3
RECEPTIONIST: How can we help you?
163.7
ANNA: Hi, I’m Anna. I’ve got a reference letter from my GP.
167.9
RECEPTIONIST: OK. Do you have a hospital card already from this hospital?
172.3
ANNA: No, I don’t have one.
173.6
RECEPTIONIST: OK. I’m going to make one for you. Do you have insurance cards and an ID card with you?
180.2
ANNA: Let me look.
185.8
RECEPTIONIST: And are registered to you.
187.4
ANNA: Thank you.
203.2
RECEPTIONIST: OK. Very good.
210.7
This is the patient card you need. Every time you visit here at the hospital you need these cards. Here you are.
219.6
ANNA: Thank you so much.
220.6
RECEPTIONIST: OK. If you come here around the corner, you go straight ahead, then you see number 10. There you have to go for your appointment.
228.2
ANNA: OK. Thank you so much.
229.5
RECEPTIONIST: You’re welcome.
229.9
ANNA: OK. Bye.
230.4
RECEPTIONIST: Bye.
234.9
ANNA: Hey.
235.5
RECEPTIONIST: Hi.
236.2
ANNA: I have an appointment here.
237.6
RECEPTIONIST: Oh, let me see.
242.8
CHANTAL: Hey, oi.
244.1
ANNA: Hi.
246.1
RECEPTIONIST: Here’s your card back. The doctor will be with you in one moment. You can take a seat over there.
252
ANNA: OK. Thank you.
256
TRIX: You work as a medical assistant at the gynaecology department. Our friend Anna came in earlier and we saw that she startled when she saw you. Are you acquainted?
263.4
CHANTAL: Yes, we’re neighbours.
264.7
TRIX: And do you run into friends and acquaintances more often?
267
CHANTAL: Pretty often, yes. It’s an open clinic.
270
TRIX: What did you think when you saw Anna?
271.8
CHANTAL: I think she’s pregnant. It’s pretty common when people come in here.
275
TRIX: And how do you handle this type of situation? Can you share with others outside work that you saw Anna and think she’s pregnant?
280.5
CHANTAL: Absolutely not. We don’t share anything. We are bound by an oath. We have the same confidentiality as the doctors. And I wouldn’t even think about sharing her personal information she shares with us.
294.4
TRIX: And do you have access to Anna’s patient files if you wind up treating her?
298.1
CHANTAL: If I wanted to, yes, I can access her files. But everything is registered so they will find out who’s in her file. And it can have pretty big consequences if I do that without any good reason.
314.3
DOCTOR: Well, twin pregnancy. Congratulations. This is the one baby and this is the other one.
320
ANNA: Yeah. Thank you so much. I’m still a little bit in shock. I mean, pregnant with twins.
325.9
DOCTOR: It’s exciting and it’s double the fun. It’s worth the effort. Regarding the cramps that you came in with, these are normal in pregnancy, especially during exercise. I would advise you to take it a bit easy. And enjoy your pregnancy and get prepared for those twins. Is there anything else I can do for you?
347
ANNA: Well, I just saw my neighbour, Chantal. I believe she’s an assistant here. I don’t like anybody to know yet that I’m pregnant. So–
355.2
DOCTOR: Yeah, I can imagine. There is patient-doctor secrecy. And that doesn’t only apply to me, but also with our other staff members. So she won’t talk about it unless you tell her that you’re pregnant and that she’s allowed to talk about it. So don’t worry about it.
371
ANNA: OK. That’s a relief. Thank you.
373.1
DOCTOR: Good. I will send a letter to your GP with a plan for the pregnancy. So everyone is informed about pregnancy and everyone knows what to do.
383.4
ANNA: OK. Thank you so much.
384.7
DOCTOR: OK. See you later.
387.1
MELANIA TUDORICA: Congratulations Anna. As you saw in this video, a lot of data was used and shared during Anna’s medical voyage. Her GP has a lot of information about her and he needs to share this with his colleagues at the hospital. This way, Anna will get the medical attention she needs. Your doctor also has this much data about you whether you are aware of this or not. But what exactly is personal data? As you have learned in the previous steps, the GDPR determines what personal data entails and how it should be treated. According to Article 4, personal data is any information that can help to identify you as a person.
425.1
As you saw in Anna’s case, she was identified by her GP by combining her last name with her date of birth. This means that this data helps to identify Anna as a person. And therefore, this is personal data. The same goes for health data. In the GDPR this is referred to as data concerning health, which is any personal data that reveals information about your health status. The results of Anna’s ultrasound, for example, is definitely data concerning health. But not only information which falls under the doctor-patient relationship falls under this definition. The definition is very broad. The GDPR furthermore determines that data concerning health is a special category, which is also referred to as sensitive data.
467.6
Sensitive data gets more privacy protection because it could have a great impact on your life if this data were freely available. You will learn more about this in the next step.
In this video we follow Anna on her medical journey and explain some basic concepts based on her story. We see how many times she provides her healthcare providers with personal data which identify her as a person. Her General Practitioner for example identifies her by combining her date of birth and her last name. She also reveals her identity at the hospital reception and at the reception of the gynaecology department. Her doctors enter the data they collect from her by consulting with her and by doing various examinations in her medical file. These healthcare providers are bound by confidentiality as well as by data protection rules.
The General Data Protection Regulation determines what personal data entails and how it should be treated. Personal data is any information that can help to identify you as a person. In the GDPR health data is referred to as data concerning health, which is any personal data that reveals information about your health status. The result of Anna’s ultrasound for example is data concerning health. But not only information which falls under the doctor-patient relationship falls under this definition. The definition is very broad. The GDPR furthermore determines that data concerning health is a special category, which is also referred to as sensitive data.
Sensitive data gets more privacy protection, because it could have a great impact on your life if this data were freely available. We would like to know what your thoughts are on this. How could Anna’s life be impacted if her health data were freely available? Feel free to discuss this with other learners on the discussion board.
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Protecting Health Data in the Modern Age: Getting to Grips with the GDPR

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