Feeds

NHS: Big tech might be OK for patient power

'No decision about me, without me'. Unless I'm unhinged

The Power of One Infographic

The Department of Health has released its consultations on patient rights and the future of IT. Does this mean no more security fails, privacy breaches and wastage ahead?

The consultations are well-intentioned and on the right track, but according to one-time contender for the Tory leadership, MP David Davis, the NHS track record on security and patient privacy could lead to embarrassment further down the road.

The consultations, issued on Monday, implicitly challenge those who objected to big tech projects in the Health Service, with the proposition that used intelligently, information can be a force for good. The second consultation has some strong statements on patients' right to control access to their medical information.

Davis spoke to El Reg earlier this week. While he said he welcomed the moves to empower patients and give them greater access to information, he expressed concern about bureaucratic creep. He said:

"There is a risk that the proposals suggested for direct access to GPs via email is more fashionable than sensible."

Davis continued: "It is hard to see any significant benefit arising from putting all doctors onto public email, but it is easy to see significant costs, added bureaucracy and serious scope for either distraction and error because of the sheer volume of unnecessary emails that doctors are likely to receive."

However, possibly more significant than any of the changes proposed is this statement from Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, in which he states: "The first principle of the White Paper [on patient choice] is that the NHS should ensure that for patients 'no decision about me, without me' is the invariable practice."

This will be music to the ears of advocacy groups up and down the UK, which have long been at odds with a service that they perceive as supporting the idea of consultants handing down edicts, as opposed to listening and learning.

The first of these consultations - Liberating the NHS: Greater choice and control - makes the strong claim that "without the right information, support and infrastructure being in place, the vision of informed, empowered patients making choices over the things that matter to them is unlikely to be achieved."

Behind this objective sits a focus on new technology such as "Choose and Book", personal health budgets and most radical of all, the idea that in future patients will take charge of their medical records online, gaining the ability to log, track their treatment and even make choices about the care they will receive.

Underpinning all of the above is the second consultation document - Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution - which is clearly intended as a keystone to future NHS IT strategy.

It talks of "transforming the way information is collected, analysed and used by the NHS", and central to this new approach is moving "away from information belonging to the system, to information enabling patients and service users to be in clear control of their care". That clearly aligns with the objective of patient choice.

The paper also suggests that in future, the DoH will be "ensuring the use of the NHS Number as the unique identifier". This is alongside the stated objectives of "improving data quality" and "improving the recording of key parts of the record", which sounds very like the summary record by another name.

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Sit back down, Julian Assange™, you're not going anywhere just yet
Swedish court refuses to withdraw arrest warrant
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
British cops cuff 660 suspected paedophiles
Arrests people allegedly accessing child abuse images online
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.