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Stop focusing on the security of health data

By Dr. Richard Thomas |


I've just read this article from the King’s Fund and it struck me that it is a mistake to focus on the security of digital health records. Give me a chance to elaborate on that heretical statement...

For those (all) of us with little time to spare, I’ll provide a quick summary of the article. The author (Matthew Honeyman, a researcher in the policy team) envisages the year 2021 in which a fictional patient accesses their NHS account online to adjust the visibility of their health data. They can change it from being accessible just by the clinician who created it through to every researcher on the planet being able to take a look. The author’s concern, quite rightly, is that if this control is given to patients in a climate of data-security fear, most people will block access to their records. He then predicts research grinding to a halt, commissioners having only half-cocked data on which to make decisions etc. etc. General armageddon.

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Lessons learned vol II

By Dr. Colin Coulthard |

At itamus, we’ve just realised that we’ve made a mistake. To be more specific, as I am in charge of business strategy and all that entails, I’ve just realised that I’ve made a mistake. Actually, it’s one in a series of mistakes that we’ve made.

Now you may be thinking that this is a bad thing. It is not. It is only by making mistakes that we make progress, so I thought that I’d document them here.



This is the first mistake I made. If you want to make a profit, you need to have a business model that scales. This means that your unit price needs to be greater than your unit cost. That way as your volume increases your profits will outweigh your fixed costs and eventually you’ll be in profit. If you can scale enough, you can make a large profit.

However, as a start-up, this can lead to a tactical error.

The mistake that we’ve made, is thinking that we could go straight to ‘at scale’ production without paying our dues first. Every company needs to pay its dues. Facebook started off as a web page with a set of yearbook photos for Harvard. Google started off as a PhD project.

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