Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

Electronic Health Care: will it work, and how do I know what to trust?

by Susan van de Ven on 27 January, 2020

Plans for digitizing many aspects of our health services have been set out by our local NHS ‘Sustainable Transformation Partnership’, a management group tasked with overseeing coordination of the many NHS partners that combine to provide our health care.  These plans are aspirational and not set out in any practical detail, and yet the intention is for digital transformation to take place quickly – the call having been issued by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

With the goal of reducing Outpatients face-to-face time by 30%, as patients we may be asked to engage in consultations by video link or email.  This will work for some but not others, given the lack of access to the necessary digital technology by a significant segment of the population.  At the County Council’s Health Committee which scrutinized the plans last week, Lib Dem councillors raised questions around cybersecurity and data protection, and the potential for the selling of individual health care data to commercial companies.  Patients should also be able to access their records on-line, though even now many of our local health partners are unable to speak to each other digitally, because they use different systems – for example, Addenbrooke’s and Royal Papworth Hospitals.   And some GP practices are not signed up to the principle of making their own doctors’ notes available to patients on-line.

Meanwhile, new health apps like the ‘NHS App’ and ‘Doctorlink’ are appearing on the scene.  Only after one has registered is it possible to see what they’re about and to examine the fine print – raising more questions, including that of scams. 

Goals are ambitious, but reflect the urgent shortfall of resources seen across the NHS.

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