“Safeguarding of patient privacy”
The Scottish Government must take action now to improve NHS computing systems as patients are missing out on better care and treatment, warns a report from the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport’s committee.
The report on the development of computer software in the NHS highlights the major issues the government must address if Scotland is to become the world leader in electronic health.
Issues to be tackled include
- safeguarding of patient privacy
- timescales and continuity for the national roll-out of “telehealth” schemes
- tackling resistance from medical staff in using technology.
The report criticises the slow and inconsistent provision of clinical portals and telehealth over the decade in Scotland. A clinical portal is a computer software system that allows clinicians and GPs to access medical data on a patient anywhere in Scotland.
Currently, information on one patient can be stored on a variety of database systems within one health board area. Telehealth software can remove the need for patients to travel to towns and hospitals to receive care and treatment. Instead, broadband or mobile services such as video conferencing can be used.
“Use and evaluate this technology”
Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP said: “If used effectively and efficiently, technology such as clinical portals and telehealth could make a huge difference to the quality of care and treatment patients receive across Scotland.
“It also has the potential to release much-needed resources in these economically difficult time for front-line patient services.
“However, our Committee report reveals that the Scottish Government has some serious work to do in encouraging health boards to use and evaluate this technology. We hope the Government will act on our recommendations regarding patient rights, professional standards, funding and staff training by 2014 at the latest.”
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