In the NHS as it stands today, there are some great interoperability initiatives being driven by organisations such as NHS Digital to increase the level of data sharing, both between NHS bodies and local authorities. This, more fluid sharing of patient records between healthcare organisations could lead to increased efficiencies and better patient care. Whilst ultimately the net gain could be great, it does also increase the risk of patient or child protection data falling into the wrong hands.
In many organisations historically, IT Security has been seen as a ‘blocker’ and the general thought train has been, increased security = decreased productivity (for end-users). So how do we go about enabling this data sharing amongst the NHS to deliver better patient care and outcomes, whilst maintaining the levels of data protection and security that is required. 66% of the general public are concerned about the NHS’s ability to protect their data, and 35% said they would be happier sharing data if they knew how it would be used. If the public feel comfortable sharing more data with the NHS, this data can be used for planning and analysis and to make significant developments in research and medicine.
It is imperative that whilst the NHS adopts these data sharing schemes, they take steps to build upon public trust in order to maximise on their impact. Security needs to be looked upon by all staff working within the NHS as an enabler to better patient outcomes rather than a blocker.
Digital transformation can help the NHS maximise on limited budgets and staffing shortages and treat more patients to a higher quality standard, but only if they are not then fined for a data breach or taken down by outages caused by a malware attack. 31% of IT Decision Makers within the NHS said that a data breach or malware outbreak had cost them financially and almost a third had had to cancel or postpone patient appointments.
There are some really innovative and exciting initiatives progressing as part of the Paperless 2020 project which will transform the way we consume healthcare in the UK and by increasing the focus on information security as an enabler to these enhancements, the NHS will be in a really strong position to provide the World-Class healthcare it is known for.