Health and social care workers

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There are numerous technologies that are used on day to day bases in the health and social care sector. It ranges from homecare technologies where you may not need as much skill such as thermometers; to secondary care technologies such as MRI scans where there are more specialized skills are used. Information Communication Technology (ICT) is used for numerous different reasons in the health and social care sector but in order for these technologies to be efficiently used the service providers must have the skill and knowledge to use them.

Often there have been cases where a service provider may not of had the knowledge to access data and this has cost someone’s life, for example, Baby Ps paediatrician could not access any of his records so could not see that he was a vulnerable child. This meant that she could not see that the bruises on Baby P should have raised alarm (Mail Online, 2010). Some technologies are easier to use so that care in the community can be achieved. Without care in the community hospitals would be overrun so it is essential that these technologies require less skill such as a glucometer.

Service users being able to use such technology saves them the time of going in and out to the doctor and that they can collect data on themselves ensuring they keep their blood sugar regulated. Data sharing is important as this data may in the future allow scientists to cure this disease or to know more about it. This means that they could possibly save lives and this would not be possible without sharing data. It is crucial that the service providers know how to share data properly without breaking the law.

Sharing data allows the data not become lost, research shows that 80% of data that has not been shared becomes unavailable after 20 years (Gibney, 2013). This means if new research came up about cancer that some data in the previous years that may be of use will no longer be available. The Caldicott Committee Report (Report on the Review of Patient-Identifiable Information 2012) state that the information that is shared must not have any information that may allow other people to figure out who that person is such as address, age, date of birth, name.

The purpose of sharing the information must be justified and have a valid purpose. This is to protect the service users as some information may cause them to be harassed, stalked and because of this they may become depressed and suicidal. The Human Rights Act 1998 states that we are all entitled to a private family life so if the information was released with identifiable information this would be in breach of our rights as a human (The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC 2015) Data Protection Act 1998, the Common Law Duty of Confidentiality also ensures the confidentiality of your personal information.

There have been numerous cases where the data shared was not filtered to ensure that no sensitive information was on it. The Trust’s website was fined ? 174,000 for publishing sensitive information of 1,000 service users (Hooper,2012). Accessing data is vital in all areas of the health and social care sector. Some service users may come to a different hospital with a recurrent illness and this needs to be seen by the service provider as this may suggest a long term illness such as a service user complaining about a pain in their abdomen.

This may be colon cancer or other chronic illnesses (MSD Manual Professional Edition, 2015) and because the data was easy to access by a member of staff this was noted and a further investigation can start to take place. The service provider must be able to access this information and it won’t be as simple as it is accessing a word document. The service provider must be discreet in accessing the information as it could be sensitive. They must not access it in a public area where members of the public in a waiting room could easily see it.

If technology that contains data is to be disposed of, it must be done properly to ensure that no one gains access to this data. In 2012 NHS Surrey a computer that was previously used by service providers was auctioned off to a member of be public, the data had not been wiped clean off the computer so it still contained information of 3,000 patients. They were fined ? 200,000 for the breach of the eighth principle in The Data Protection Act 1998 (Steefey, 2015) Data protecting is to ensure no unauthorized personnel can access the information on any given person.

The service provider must ensure that any data that is stored must be stored correctly such as computers having passwords, USB stick be encrypted, try and avoid any unnecessary use of fax machines and if they are used ensuring that someone is on the receiver end. St Georges healthcare were issued a penalty of ? 60,000 because sensitive information about a vulnerable service user’s medical information was sent to the wrong address 9 (The Guardian, 2012) . This is why it is imperative that all service providers are up to date on how to correctly protect the data of the service user.

The Data Protection Act 1998 is a legislation that states that there must be a stronger means of protecting sensitive information such as ethnic backgrounds, political views, sexual health and criminal background so service providers must also ensure that they are aware of this and how to do so. Saving data ensures that service providers can access the information. These records should include such information as any allergies that the patient may have any dietary requirements, any long term illnesses such as diabetes, x-rays in the past etc.

Saving data of the service users isn’t as easy as it makes out to be. They have to ensure that the saved information is protected and that it is all relevant and correct. The NHS is now using what is called a summary record where they have all the important information on it. This means that service providers such as GPs must ensure that they know how this operates in case the service user wishes to edit their summary record. Saving data correctly ensures that it can be accessed by all service providers if necessary e.

g if a service user came in unconscious the doctors would be able to see on his/her records if he/she had any allergies. If the records weren’t there then the service provider may not know the service user is highly allergic to penicillin. Although technology grows quite rapidly it is also important to realise the impact it has on an individual or organisation if data is not handled with care at all times. I have shown numerous examples in this piece and there is many more. Data has been found to be leaked on apps on service user’s phones.

One of the apps being NHS England’s Health Apps Library. (BBC news 2015) The makers of this app had not encrypted it properly. It is so easy to get carried away with technology and forget the consequences of not securing it properly. It is important to remember that it is a person’s life and not just another number. They have a family, they have friends and data leaked potentially could lead to them ending their lives.

References

Hooper, R, (2013) Health trust fined over data breach http://www.nature.com/news/scientists-losing-data-at-a-rapid-rate-1.14416

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