In March, the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) will start collecting anonymised patient information from GPs in England for the very first time. It is hoped that the ‘Care.Data’ scheme will enable healthcare professionals to monitor the spread of diseases and the effectiveness of treatments, help cut costs and advance scientific research.
The project is an interesting use of Big Data analytics – and the centre won TechWeek’s Tech Success award for Big Data in 2013. But many patients and even some GPs were quick to criticise the idea, remembering all the past data protection sins of the NHS. They don’t want their data circulated and, for them, he government has created the option to simply opt out.
Health IT experts warn that every person who chooses to withhold their patient records will reduce the effectiveness of Care.Data as a research tool. Gayna Hart, founder and managing director of IT systems supplier Quicksilva says the secure HSCIC infrastructure has been built from scratch, and is a far cry from the legacy systems used by the rest of the health service.