Health, Technology and the Law

A Timely Synergy

For Mason Marks, the ‘Go Forth’ theme perfectly embodies the work that he does, and nothing encapsulates that better than his timely research focus: technology, privacy, and health.

“Health information is something that for thousands of years, we have thought of as special, something that is private,” said Marks. “It’s rooted in the Hippocratic Oath, which says that whatever my patients share with me, it would be shameful to share with others.”

But the technology and the internet have rapidly changed how we view data and who has access to it, shedding new light on historical practice.

Marks, with both an M.D. from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. from Tufts University, believes it is critical that we are thoughtful and proactive about how we manage our health information.

This spring, Marks convened stakeholders from multiple disciplines including patent law, private business, and healthcare to talk about Gonzaga Law’s latest endeavor, the Health & Technology Policy Project (HTPP). The mission of the project is to research, develop, and promote technology policies that improve public health on the local, state, and national levels.

“We are living in a completely unprecedented time,” Marks said. “We’ve only had these technologies for a matter of years and things are shifting very rapidly.” However, Marks notes that bringing a diverse group together in a collaborative environment enables them to better educate policymakers about these technologies and their impact on society.

“We are trying to shape health tech policy based on evidence,” Marks said. “It is important that we look at what the science says first, and then use that to inform the policies that we will promote.”

In addition to the HTPP, Marks is the 2020-21 Edmond J. Safra/Petrie-Flom Joint Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard University and Harvard Law School. At Harvard, Marks will research the legal and ethical implications of adopting Artificial Intelligence in healthcare and public health. “It is an exciting time to be researching law and biomedical innovation,” said Marks. “Technologies such as AI hold great promise for improving human health. However, the risks are not fully understood, and the law is not prepared to protect people from them.”