Advice on sharing electronic health and care records, creating a strong password and keeping it secure, and developing good habits online to protect your information on your computer or mobile device, all appear in new guidance leaflet for the public – ‘Keeping your online health and social care records safe and secure.’ The guidance has been published today by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the Department for Health (DH) as the result of a joint project. It is available from NHS Choices. The guidance was developed by PiF members Mynors Suppiah.
Dr Wai Keong Wong, who has led the development of the guidelines on behalf of BCS Health, says: “We’ve created this guide because patients and users are increasingly accessing their health and care records or holding their own. By March 2015 the government has mandated that the NHS provides patients online access to their GP medical records. These records contain potentially sensitive personal information, so it’s important that individuals know how to keep them safe. Everyone should take the same care with their health and social care records as they do if they use online banking. This guidance explains how to access records safely, keep them secure, and key factors to consider before choosing to share them with others.”
The guidance is for people who are accessing their own records and who may want to share them with others. It doesn’t include specific advice for people who may be using records on behalf of someone else who can’t do it themselves (for example, children or someone who needs support to make decisions.)
Dr Charles Gutteridge, National Clinical Director from the DH says: “Millions of people across the globe are using online records and apps to look after themselves. In the UK, there is an increasing amount of online information for health purposes which includes NHS Choices, the Summary Care Record, electronic prescribing and booking systems. This guidance really helps everyone to understand how to maximise the benefits of online health resources and how to keep their personal data secure.”
The guidance explains what health records are, how to protect them, and how to share them should individuals wish to. There is also advice on protecting computers, mobile devices and how to access records using a public computer.