London Hospital Trust tests potential of cloud computing for shared access to patient records

From the beginning of July, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital foundation trust will begin testing online sharing of confidential patient information with GPs and consultants. This follows 18 months of development work between the central London hospital, Edinburgh Napier University and Flexiant, a cloud services provider.

The electronic system, which will replace the current paper based records, has raised fresh concerns over confidentially issues following the reported 2,600 missing electronic NHS patient records in London over the past year. The missing records from NHS North Central London, covering five London boroughs - Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington was due to the loss of several laptops, one of which was reported stolen from the Trust's building. These included information about a serious case review under the London Safeguarding Children procedures being released on a NHS trust website by mistake.

Flexiant said that security will be critical to the success of the project, which is envisaged to enhance patient care allowing a greater level of communication between GP’s and hospitals.

According to Professor Bill Buchanan of Edinburgh Napier University, the UK often has a non-integrated approach to patient care, and data is not used effectively between the parties involved, saying:

"Our system allows for data to be stored with its context, such as where it was captured, and then used in whatever way is necessary through well-managed clinical services.”

Funding for the two year project has been provided by the Technology Strategy Board and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Research undertaken earlier this year of behalf of the Cloud Industry Forum Data and co-sponsored by DMH Stallard revealed that data security in the cloud is a key concern. This is not surprising and is a key consideration that an organisation needs to address before moving to the cloud. Click here for more information on best practices in cloud contracts.