The CEO of a prominent digital and IT services provider has suggested that using onshore IT contractors instead of third-party suppliers from outside the UK, as the now-defunct Care.Data project did, may yet rescue the plan to digitise NHS patient records.
Writing in the IT professionals’ news outlet ITProPortal, Spectromax Solutions CEO Bhuwan Kaushik states that the aims of the Care.Data project were both admirable and necessary. Had the Government done more to bring the public on side before proceeding with the programme, the NHS could have become inestimably more cost-effective, eco-friendly and secure. Instead of relying on outdated 19th – and 20th -century technologies for record keeping, a digital upgrade may have helped NHS professionals to save innumerable lives through quick and easy sharing of clinical information.
Unfortunately, the project faced huge obstacles. Care.Data was nothing less than a nationwide IT project dealing with colossal amounts of sensitive clinical data, most of it interred in disjointed and disparate data silos. What compounded matters – and generated widespread public mistrust that their data would be safe – was the Government’s decision to introduce a plethora of third-party suppliers at every point.
As Kaushik explains: “Indeed, health data is deeply and inherently personal, and this was the crux of the Care.Data failure. Whether because of future employment, insurance or just personal confidentiality, there are all manner of reasons why members of the UK public wouldn’t want their health records shared with third parties. That’s assuming they stay where they’re intended. There have been numerous high profile data breaches this year alone and, should this data fall into the wrong hands, one can only imagine the recrimination.”
People were simply left worrying about whether their data would be safe, who would be able to access it and how it would be used – assurances that the Government failed to give.
Kaushik believes that NHS digitisation can still be achieved, but lessons will have to be learned from the Care.Data farrago. Prominent amongst these is replacing gigantic third-party corporations such as Google, based outside the UK, with onshore Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting IT professionals with state-of-the-art cyber security skills.
IT contractors, Kaushik explains, have local knowledge and understand the intricacies and sensitivities inherent to working for the NHS.
To rescue this much-needed transformation, the NHS needs to choose the right IT project team. For Bhuwan Kaushik, IT contractors should be at the heart of it.