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‘Paperless challenge’ slammed as security risk

16 February 2013

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Many doctors feel putting medical records online could have “unintended and severe consequences” on security. 
Released today (15 February 2013), a survey for the Medical Protection Society (MPS) showed that 86% of their members and 80% of the public would be concerned if medical records were available online. 
Director of policy at the medica-legal support agency, Dr Stephanie Bown said: “MPS has seen first hand how things can go wrong for patients and doctors when confidential medical information gets into the wrong hands.
The healthcare sector must “open its eyes” to the risks of online access, Dr Bown said. 

Less than 30% of doctors think allowing patients to access their medical records online is a good idea, according to the MPS survey. 
More than two thirds of the public believe that medical records should only be accessed by a healthcare professional. 
Three quarters of the 1,700 patients who took part and 66% of doctors agree that sensitive information should not be available online. 
Relationship ‘breakdown’ 
MPS have called for sensitive information, around sexual or mental health, to only be available if requested by the patient. 
“If information given to a doctor is not confidential it could cause a breakdown in the relationship of trust,” Dr Bown said. 
“We want a firm commitment from the government that the information strategy will not compromise patient confidentiality – because once the contents of ‘Pandora‟s Box’ have been released, the damage cannot be undone.”
Hunt’s ‘paperless’ NHS
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt challenged the NHS to go ‘paperless’ by 2018 to achieve £4billion in savings and reduce patient “hassle”. 
By March 2015 the Health Secretary wants everyone to be able to access the health records held by their GP online. 
Hunt claimed it will improve services and help “meet the challenges of an aging population”. 
Speaking at the paperless challenge’s launch in mid January, he said: ““The NHS cannot be the last man standing as the rest of the economy embraces the technology revolution. 
“It is crazy that paramedics cannot access a full medical history of someone they are picking up in an emergency – and that GPs and hospitals still struggle to share digital records.”