Tech industry responds to NHS digital application strategy

Calls for improved processing of digital patient records, better security protocols around wearable devices and patient applications as UK government announces multi-billion pound shake-up

by the commentator on 9 September 2016 11:25

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Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt has announced a string of new digital policies to improve the patient services delivered by the National Health Service (NHS). The new proposals, unveiled this week include online consultancy provided by the NHS website, including options to book appointments and access medical records.

One of the most eye-catching initiatives was to introduce wearable devices and approved apps to provide access to health details. The technology industry gave a warm reaction to the proposals, but some experts raised concerns around the need for increased security and privacy procedures.

Paul Farrington, EMEA solution architects manager at Application security specialists Veracode said that the policy would help create a truly digital NHS but required robust security support.

“This is a bold initiative from our world class health service and one which will undoubtedly provide more personalised and efficient healthcare to millions, but there are inevitable risks around privacy and security which must be tackled from the outset,” explained Farrington.

“With apps becoming ubiquitous in our daily lives, hackers are increasingly seeking to exploit coding vulnerabilities to steal identities and personal information. That’s why it’s vital that our NHS ensures approved apps for both patients and professionals are thoroughly tested and secure to enable confidence in the service’s digital journey,” Farrington concluded.

The move was also welcome by digital IT specialists Ricoh UK.

Tony Pickering, professional services director of Ricoh UK commented, “Providing patients with instant access to healthcare records through approved apps and wearables is a positive step towards a paperless NHS. But this initiative must be supported by a wider strategy designed to improve the management of health records, safely and securely.

Pickering continued, “Accelerating the digitisation of paper-based records, designing improved sharing processes and new ways of working should all be top of the health secretary’s to do list.” 

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