Access to personal health information (5) Security of personal health information (2)

2 July, 2020

Isabel, thank you for your comments. As you say so clearly in your writing, the digitization of health data is of different importance for different health and care outcomes.

In the United Kingdom and Europe we have recognized that digital records require resources of people, technology and money. The successful implementation of digital records also requires appropriate laws of the country involved and as we go forward on international law.

Digitization requires suitable ethics of professionals which are governed by regulatory bodies in Europe (The General Medical Council in the UK. Doctors who act unethically may be removed from the medical register.) Professionals are trained in clinical governance including the creation and audit of accurate medical records. All professionals are trained and assessed in Information governance - information governance balances the risk that information presents with the value that information provides.

The processing of patients’ data also depends on the morals, culture and memes of the patients and of the consciousness and laws of the nation. Finally the processing of digital data depends on technical security of the standard used by the financial sectors.

I hope that the United Nations and WHO will help to define and guide all of the standards required for digitization of health records.

GP Patient Survey 2019 on Online GP services [*see note below] showed

- The majority of patients (77.8%) in the past 12 months of completing the survey booked an appointment over the phone. While two in five (42.1%) booked in person, and over one in ten (11.6%) booked online (including on an app).

- Over two in five patients (44.1%) were aware they could book appointments online, an increase of 3.5 percentage points compared with 2018 (40.6%). Two in five patients (40.6%) were aware they could order repeat prescriptions online, an increase of 2.7 percentage points compared with 2018 (37.9%). Fewer patients (15.4%) were aware they could access medical records online, an increase of 2.7 percentage points compared with 2018 (12.7%).

- Just under two in five patients (39.8%) were unsure whether these services were available at their GP practice, while less than one in ten patients (7.4%) believed that none of these options were available (a decrease of 2.7 percentage points and 0.7 percentage points respectively compared with 2018).

- Around one in six patients (16.2%) said they’d used online services in the last 12 months to order repeat prescriptions, an increase of 1.9 percentage points compared with 2018 (14.3%). While one in seven patients (14.9%) say they used online services to book appointments, an increase of 2.0 percentage points compared with 2018 (12.9%). Fewer patients (4.3%) say they used online services to access their medical records in the past 12 months, an increase of 1.0 percentage point compared with 2018 (3.3%).

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP, British Medical Association. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT gmail.com

[*Note from HIFA moderator (Neil PW): Richard refers to the GP Patient Survey 2019 on GP practices in England: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/2019/07/11/gp-patient-survey-2019/ ]