• Adam Tabriz, MD

Emerging Digital Tattoos And Patient Privacy

Disruptive Digital Tattoos May Make Healthcare More Invisible, But At The Disclosure Of Private Patient Information, So Who Is Best the Gatekeeper?!

Illumination initially published this article on Medium!


Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

It does not a surprise that digital tech utterly disrupts all industries, particularly the healthcare domain. But that does not even stop there. The human body is the following backcountry for the newcomers in medical devices, wearable, and cyber technology colosseums.

The emerging instruments differ from their orthodox peers as they go beyond the mere ability to measure and record clinical parameters to diagnose, monitor, and treat diseases. Modern tools are about doing the same but accurately, with ease, conveniently, and continually.

Furthermore, the modern sensors must also be affordable, more accessible to produce in the mass production line, and small, hidden, or cosmetically Wearable.

The concept of digital tattoos receives clearance from everything said earlier about modern digital disruptors. However, the haziness that still lingers around the entire all the trendy digital health technology disruptors is information security and ownership.

Digital Tattoo: A Smart Skin Mark And Gateway To Body

Digital Tattoos have revolutionized access to the human body, from measuring blood glucose and estimating therapeutic levels of medications in the blood to monitoring brain wave activities. Furthermore, since we can wirelessly connect digital tattoos to smartphones, such connectivity means continuity, streamlining medical care out of medical facilities to patients' homes and workplaces.

Indeed, digital tattoos serve as portable personal minilabs pivoting human skin into an interactive platform, thus making healthcare more invisible concerning operations and logistics.

Their blending in with human anatomy makes digital tattoos even more appealing. One can also disguise them by making them look like cosmetic embellishments, such as a flower on the arm or a heart over the ankle. While a digital tattoo may be a typical skin decoration, it also continually senses and transmits biochemical, physiological, and electrical data collected from the skin-deep milieu.

For instance, modern 3D and electronic circuit printing technologies using flexible materials have facilitated the longevity of digital electronic tattoos for days or weeks. The new technologies are becoming smaller, thinner, pliable, and waterproof.

So, Are Digital Tattoos Realy Invisible?

The history of tattoos reaches back over 5000 years. Those who initially began to use tattoos would have been stunned if one told them that one-day tattoos would make healthcare invisible or even be used for any healing purpose other than possibly repelling the evil spirit or bad vibes.

Today, just like their orthodox counterpart, digital tattoos can be the headwater of wrong vibes if we fail to put them on our skincare.

Just like smartphones, artificial intelligence, and the internet revolutionized how we communicate, manage and search things, digital tattoos will also recast the role of traditional tattoos by turning artistic masterpieces into convenient and robust medical devices.

Despite the limitless benefits that digital tattoos bring to patient care and the healthcare system, it conveys several practical concerns that every individual must consider.

Some disadvantages of digital tattoos are minor, like they are not long-lasting or permanent today. The majority of digital tattoos are made of complex materials. The primary concern is that digital tattoos are data transmission devices connected to the cloud via a smartphone or any other hardware system. Therefore, while the rhetorics and evidence around digital tattoos are hard to pass on, manufacturers and corporations could voluntarily or unwillingly collect, share or let data into the wrong hands.

Let us keep in mind that we are living through the Period of the data rush as data, from a value perspective, is the contemporary gold.

The 21st- century is the generation of data monetization.

The corporate data servers are the" silos" for billions of dollars worth of public information. Again, because those silos are centralized, the patient private information is very vulnerable and at the mercy of 3rd party entities.

Let us imagine, the very detail of our body sold to or shared with insurance companies, or even hacked!

Given we have no control over data in corporate silos, the cost of our insurance premium would not be the only thing at their mercy. And, given the lack of transparency, healthcare would not be the only thing becoming invisible.

We can only expect legitimate use of collected health data via the utility of digital tattoos by decentralizing the data ledgers, placing every patient in control of those ledgers, ensuring cybersecurity, and exhibiting workflow transparency.

All-in-all, healthcare invisibility necessitates a visible process with patients serving as the gatekeepers of their health data.
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