Hard Lessons Learned in UK on Healthcare Data Strategies

During the past year, the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom failed terribly when attempting to roll out aggressive data management strategies. Their initiative, care.data, was abruptly halted due to numerous privacy concerns. The NHS Director for Patients and Information, Tim Kelsey, has renewed the effort with great vigor! His arguments have been winning over opponents with convincing and substantial arguments for the benefits of proper data management programs within the NHS. The program would have pulled together all health records into a central database and subsequently share them with the Health and Social Care Information Center. These lessons are and decisions are significant learning points for the United States, as we implement our Electronic Medical Record (EMR) programs.

Care.data NHS healthcare data quality

The NHS program was a sound one. It would have brought data into one central database and then shared the data with the HSCICS, allowing healthcare providers and the government the ability to improve healthcare services, combat disease and reduce the costs of healthcare delivery. The specific personal data would have been “psuedonymised”, thus protecting personal data from exposure. Only those specific healthcare providers working with that specific patient could have accessed the data. Kelsey strongly believes that using technology is a “moral obligation” and if the UK doesn’t, then people’s lives are on the line. He has renewed the fight for data strategies in the NHS system in 2015 and feels strongly their efforts will be successful. Of course, privacy opponents are gearing up for another round and will equally fight to defeat the initiative.

Whether or not Kelsey and the NHS will be successful is a big question. The healthcare industry in the United States needs to closely pay attention to the ongoing process in the UK with the NHS. We are in the middle of a similar implementation, with similar privacy opposition. The industry must carefully watch and consult with the NHS for lessons learned and find ways to improve our programs. Kelsey’s opinions are accurate … patient care quality is at stake and we cannot allow that to suffer. Implementing proper data programs will require expertise and exceptional software to properly implement our current strategies.

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