Feeds

NHS: Big tech might be OK for patient power

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

High performance access to file storage

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.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.