Information and Data Sharing Crucial in #COVID19 Efforts

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The COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate sharing as governments and the private sector work to find solutions, not only in healthcare but in other sectors of the economy impacted by the current crisis.

According to Forrester, “in times of crisis, the need for information is critical” and the COVID-19 pandemic provides a clear illustration of this as healthcare officials and policy makers need data to inform their responses; researchers need data to drive the search for solutions; and leaders across sectors need data to understand the impact of the crisis on their businesses.

An advisory written by Forrester analysts Jennifer Belissent and Enza Iannopollo stated that in the current situation “data sharing is a recovery imperative” and as companies recover from closure, they will need to apply insights to improve their chances of success.

They said: “The recovery could prove a pivotal time to implement new technologies and redefine business processes. Data literacy is a key element to ensuring that employees are future fit.”

In a second advisory, Iannopollo said that COVID-19 “has reminded us of the power of collecting and sharing data” and as a result, an increasing number of individuals will be willing to share their personal data in real time in the hope of protecting themselves and others.

“Don’t assume that they will pay less attention to a brand’s values or that they will accept limits on their privacy rights,” Iannopollo said. “Even in the middle of the crisis, employees and employers have forced European regulators to provide guidance on collecting, sharing, and processing personal sensitive data.

“European consumers will remain vigilant of their privacy, especially their health data. And with an unemployment crisis looming, trust and values will drive European consumers’ potentially limited choices.”

Speaking to Infosecurity, Iannopollo said that before GDPR came into force, companies only cared about what data they collected and it didn’t matter what the purpose was with it, as data sharing “is a great driver in the economy, but there are enormous risks with it” as for a long time we’ve been trained to think of data as an asset, and “the more you have the better.” Then GDPR “came along and businesses had to clarify to people” what they were doing with it.

According to an announcement released today, NHS Digital and NHSX have introduced GP Connect to all practices, which will enable the secure sharing of patient records across primary care, meaning that health and care professionals have the information necessary to give patients the care they need quickly and effectively, regardless of whether they are registered at that practice or have accessed that service before.   

Additional Information will be automatically added to the Summary Care Record of any patient who has not expressed a preference that information isn’t shared and will include significant medical history (past and present), reasons for medications, care plan information and immunizations.

Richard Alcock, interim director of Primary Care Technology at NHS Digital said: “This step is crucial to support clinicians so that they can give timely, accurate clinical advice to their patients at a time when they are already under unprecedented stress and having to work in completely new ways to deliver care.”

Iannopollo said she had seen this working in the Netherlands, where if you cannot see your GP another doctor can see you if you’re willing to share your medical details. She praised efforts to do better information and data sharing, but said the worry is that what is used in an emergency “will outlive the emergency and generate a backlash.”

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