NHS medical records database security fears downplayed by IT entrepreneur

An IT entrepreneur has played down security fears over the UK National Health Service’s new digital records database and has stated that the digitising of records is long overdue.

Related: NHS admits its medical records database is a security nightmare waiting to happen

Scott Fletcher, IT entrepreneur and ANS Group founder, thinks that people have nothing to fear from the new system that has been a long time coming and that a secure cloud will help to make sure the system isn’t beset by security problems.

“People say this will be expensive and difficult but it doesn’t have to be that way. Electronic medical records are a basic piece of a more efficient and effective health care system,” Fletcher said. “Such records, safe and secure in “The Cloud,” will improve physicians’ ability to diagnose and treat patients accurately and more quickly and do away with unnecessary, costly and time-wasting tests.”

The Care.data medical records database is being championed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and comes with a reported price tag of some £50 million and it requires all hospitals to have “digital records that are capable of being shared” for all patients by the end of 2014.

This will give way to all NHS referrals being done electronically by 2015 and the ambitious scheme would see the entire NHS going paperless by 2018.

When everything is on the new system it will be able to be accessed by hospitals and physicians as well as elderly care homes run by council social services, private long term care homes and the scheme could even be extended to private health firms.

Hunt has previously said that the system will save the NHS some £4 billion annually as well as thousands of patient lives and Fletcher is another that is firmly backing the sweeping changes the system will bring.

“Imagine if ambulance staff could access a patient’s medical history on the way to hospital? They could communicate with hospital staff about what to do given that patient’s individual medical situation. Then the patient could be quickly and seamlessly transferred to the hospital medical staff who would be ready to continue his treatment,” Fletcher added.

Related: Three quarters of NHS chiefs lack confidence in government’s ability to deliver IT innovation

Public sector analysts have pointed out that patient confidentiality and the security of medical records are at risk from the new service with decision makers worried that hackers could “maliciously” identify patients by medical records.

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