Electronic patient records need tougher safeguards

There should be tougher safeguards in place to protect patient confidentiality for electronic patient records, GPC Scotland has called.

GPC Scotland said that with the growing use of electronic patient records it is ‘essential’ that records are accessed appropriately.

It also raised concerns about the Clinical Portal Technology and Telehealth project, which aims to allow patients and clinicians to electronically view certain patient information through clinical portals.

Dr Alan McDevitt, deputy chairman of the GPC Scotland and lead on IT issues, said: ‘Although BMA Scotland is broadly supportive of the Clinical Portal Technology project, we do have concerns relating to patient confidentiality and how access to the system will be managed.

‘If portals are to be accessible from computers anywhere within the NHS then it is our view that username and password access does not offer sufficient security of data.’

Dr McDevitt warned that it may become ‘commonplace’ to medical staff to share usernames and passwords if professionals do not receive access to systems quickly enough.

He said: ‘While this is already an issue of concern, the risk of misuse in an environment where clinical portals display much more data about many more people, is considerably greater.

‘The BMA strongly believes that introducing tighter controls will be far more effective at limiting inappropriate access to electronic patient records than using retrospective audit in isolation.’

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