The misuse of sensitive data can do enormous damage to patients and to the reputations of healthcare providers and their senior management. It can also lead to a substantial waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when the NHS has to make savings and increase financial efficiency.
Greater competition for patients and contracts means that organisations must work harder than ever to safeguard their reputations. Commissioners also want to be certain that the services they purchase will not lead to complaints by, or harm to, their patients.
The planned roll out of HealthWatch, which will champion patient interests and concerns at local and national level across England, will see healthcare providers face closer scrutiny than ever before. This will put the NHS under further pressure to demonstrate its effectiveness at addressing pressing public concerns, such as the confidentiality of patients’ personal healthcare records.
Kurt Long, CEO and founder of FairWarning Inc, said: "The Health and Social Care Act, and the setting up of HealthWatch, mean that patient privacy is becoming a more pressing concern than ever for NHS senior managers. Health and social care providers who act now have an excellent opportunity to strengthen their reputation with patients, clients and commissioners who will feel confident that high-quality training and safeguards are all in place. They will also be able to meet the growing demands from government, regulators, patient groups and the public to keep electronic records safe.
"Our experience shows that the huge threat that exists from privacy breaches is actually straightforward to tackle by replacing cumbersome manual systems with ones that are automated, fast and effective. Once patient records are secure senior management teams no longer have the worry that there might be a major privacy breach issue ticking away like a time bomb at the heart of their organisation. They are free to focus their energies on the immense challenges of implementing the new Health and Social Care Act and making far-reaching efficiency savings."
NHSScotland has already moved to protect patient confidentiality, but much of the NHS in England is ill-equipped to prevent or detect privacy breaches. Yet the passing of the Health and Social Care Act means that care providers will have to exchange data with an ever-growing number of external bodies. These will include new providers from small independent clinics, to social and private enterprises delivering anything from routine surgery to paediatric palliative care. Security is a must in all these relationships.
An independent survey carried out on behalf of FairWarning last year showed that an overwhelming majority of British people believe that chief executives and senior managers who fail to prevent a serious data breach should face severe consequences. Patients also say that they would put off seeking care, or possibly not give the full facts to a clinician, if there were worries about their confidentiality.
At the same time the regulatory environment is becoming tougher, with the Information Commissioner's office committed to firm action on NHS data breaches. Dame Fiona Caldicott has been commissioned by the government to head an independent review on the protection of patient data. In this environment healthcare organisations must be certain that they are in full control of who accesses patient data and be able to prevent its misuse.
About the UK independent patient opinion survey
The main findings of the survey included that:
The UK survey was carried out by New London Consulting and took place in the nine day period from Thursday, August 25, 2011 to Friday, September 02, 2011 inclusive.
Healthwatch England, launching in October 2012, will work with local Healthwatch and will also:
Local Healthwatch, launching in April 2013, will take on the work of the Local Involvement Networks (LINks) and will also:
About FairWarning, Inc.
FairWarning® is the world's leading supplier of cross-platform healthcare privacy auditing solutions for Electronic Health Records. FairWarning® proactively protects healthcare organisations from emerging legal and privacy threats which include medical identity theft, identity theft, and other forms of healthcare information crimes. FairWarning® is industry’s leading best practice solution for automating privacy auditing. The company is located in Clearwater, FL, with offices in London, England and Paris, France.