In today’s technologically driven world, healthcare infrastructure and health data have emerged as critical components. The value of health care includes both the provision of high-quality medical care and the promotion of overall well-being. Similarly, health data, comprising of patients’ health conditions, medical histories, and outcomes, has become valuable for medical research, policy development, and personalised care.
Additionally, comprehensive health data helps in medical research and innovation. It aids in understanding disease patterns, identifying risk factors, and developing new therapies. By having access to this data, healthcare providers can personalise treatments and promote care coordination. The rise of personalised health care has led to a surge of awareness among patents about their health and public health surveillance systems such as Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) in India gathers data from health care providers and research laboratories to monitor disease patterns.
The global big data healthcare market grew from $20.31 billion (2022) to $22.73 billion (2023) at a CAGR of 11.9%. With the burden of data increasing, there is a need to account for legal and ethical issues that surround the usage, sharing, and trading of data. Intellectual property (IP) serves as a crucial tool in safeguarding health care data. It establishes a series of laws and regulations that govern the rights and responsibilities of individuals, organisations, and stakeholders involved in the collection, analysis, and utilisation of this vital information. Protective mechanisms, such as patents, copyrights, and trade secrets, are some of the ways to safeguard it and enforce rightsholders’ innovation. For instance, the development of connected medical devices is greatly facilitated by patent protection, which enables manufacturers and developers to drive innovation and explore new technological horizons. Developing a strategic patent portfolio also gives a competitive edge in the ever-changing industry Any robust and enforceable IP framework must include licensing and research collaboration agreements, done so on a voluntary basis. These voluntary agreements set the terms and conditions under which health data can be shared, accessed, or utilised for research, commercialisation, or other purposes.
Often, laws relating to IP for individual patient records and databases are complex and lack transparency, leading to unauthorised use. A lack of awareness within healthcare organisations about the significance of IP protection further increases the problem. Therefore, developing a legal framework that considers the needs of patients, clinicians, researchers, and businesses is the need of the hour. This is critical for prevention of expensive litigation, improvement of opportunities for academic research and industrial innovations, and for the successful integration of networked technologies into medical practice.
Establishing a clear and explicit IP framework remains critical for healthcare companies and starts with self-regulation and awareness-raising campaigns. All the employees should be routinely informed of these regulations and the critical importance of IP. Additionally, businesses must stay up-to-date on the constantly evolving IP laws and regulations in order to accurately understand and protect their IP rights and relay that information to employees. Thus, a robust IP framework will support innovations in data-driven healthcare, benefit patients, and promote overall healthcare system improvements.
This article is authored by Rajendra Pratap Gupta, founder, Health Parliament.