Caution over anonymous data stumbling point for service.
When it was announced last month that the NHS’s plan to digitise patient information under the Care.data scheme has been pushed back to an autumn 2014 launch, much of the public breathed a sigh of relief.
Despite the second Caldicott Review undertaken by the government, there are still concerns that despite patient data being anonymised, there is an element of privacy invasion in the scheme.
But Adrian Conduit, director of healthcare at Hitachi Consulting UK, has told CBR that so long as Care.data follows the accepted guidelines surrounding the privacy and security of patient data, it will act as an important starting point in enabling greater information sharing.
"What needs to be improved moving forwards is how we engage the public about the initiative to ensure successful adoption so that they are assured that the purposes for collecting and analysing their data is appropriate and will lead to better services for them and their families," he said.
Ultimately, collecting, analysing and honing the patient data available will provide the NHS with insights that can be used to improve the consistency of health services and identify new models of care that provide adequate support for the patient outside hospital.
But Conduit emphasised that sharing GP’s patient data is only part of the picture. "Healthcare data from GPs is a major source of patient information but not the only one. To ensure the success of Care.data, it will be important to integrate data from other areas, such as social care, to design integrated services that are tailored to the needs of individuals," he said.
"For the NHS to deliver truly joined-up services, it will be important to have access to patient information across all the settings where care is delivered."