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Stop focusing on the security of health data

By Dr. Richard Thomas |


I've just read this article from the King’s Fund and it struck me that it is a mistake to focus on the security of digital health records. Give me a chance to elaborate on that heretical statement...

For those (all) of us with little time to spare, I’ll provide a quick summary of the article. The author (Matthew Honeyman, a researcher in the policy team) envisages the year 2021 in which a fictional patient accesses their NHS account online to adjust the visibility of their health data. They can change it from being accessible just by the clinician who created it through to every researcher on the planet being able to take a look. The author’s concern, quite rightly, is that if this control is given to patients in a climate of data-security fear, most people will block access to their records. He then predicts research grinding to a halt, commissioners having only half-cocked data on which to make decisions etc. etc. General armageddon.

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