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British NHS Patient Records Go To the Cloud 73

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the what-could-go-wrong dept.
smitty777 writes "The Telegraph is reporting on an effort by the NHS to put a London hospital's patient records in the cloud. One of the more interesting aspects of this is the suggestion that patients would have control over who has access to their medical data. Many have understandable security concerns, which are even more relevant considering the recent issues with Dropbox cloud storage."
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British NHS Patient Records Go To the Cloud

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  • by frosty03 (1005519) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @05:02PM (#36604238)
    It's only a matter of time before somebody gets into it...
    • Just as it's only a matter of time until you get sick. At least this might help keep your doctor affordable to actually heal you instead of the possibility that someone will know what Allergy medication I'm on.

      • by mr1911 (1942298)
        Yes, because the government getting involved in anything always makes it more efficient and affordable.
        • And less prone to error.

        • by Boronx (228853)

          Every other country of any means has more efficient, far more affordable healthcare systems that produce better outcomes than the US, but maybe that's in spite of the fact that they're also government controlled.

        • by drsquare (530038)

          Um yeah. The NHS is known for its relative efficiency and its accessibility to the people.

      • Just as it's only a matter of time until you get sick. At least this might help keep your doctor affordable to actually heal you instead of the possibility that someone will know what Allergy medication I'm on.

        The doctor doesn't heal you; he just helps you rid yourself of your ailment. Your body does its own healing...

        • The doctor doesn't heal you; he just helps you rid yourself of your ailment. Your body does its own healing...

          Oh not that natural healing crap again. Yes the body heals itself but 'medicine' such as antibiotics also heal the body. You're not one of those homoeopathy sorcerers with your naturally healing magical memory water are you? I always wondered why if people who believe that homoeopathic substances become more potent the more dilute they get, are not worried that terrorists may threaten to destroy the universe by infinitely diluting a homoeopathic bomb.

          • The doctor doesn't heal you; he just helps you rid yourself of your ailment. Your body does its own healing...

            Oh not that natural healing crap again. Yes the body heals itself but 'medicine' such as antibiotics also heal the body. You're not one of those homoeopathy sorcerers with your naturally healing magical memory water are you? I always wondered why if people who believe that homoeopathic substances become more potent the more dilute they get, are not worried that terrorists may threaten to destroy the universe by infinitely diluting a homoeopathic bomb.

            Uh. You completely misunderstood what I said. I wasn't talking about magical water or sorcery or any of that...

            When a doctor gives you an antibiotic, that drug hinders the harmful bacteria's ability to reproduce or live. It doesn't generate new flesh in your body to replace dead flesh. Your body rebuilds itself; the doctor just helps to remove the obstacles.

          • by Gordonjcp (186804)

            Hey, homeopathy totally works. You really can make something more powerful by diluting and ensuring you have less of it. Less is more!

            I should know, because I'm a world-leading expert in homeopathy. Well, I skimmed the first chapter of a book on it, anyway. Less is more, right?

            • by coolmadsi (823103)

              Hey, homeopathy totally works. You really can make something more powerful by diluting and ensuring you have less of it. Less is more!

              I should know, because I'm a world-leading expert in homeopathy. Well, I skimmed the first chapter of a book on it, anyway. Less is more, right?

              Exactly. And if fewer people practice homeopathy, the more powerful its effect will become ;)

  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr1911 (1942298) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @05:03PM (#36604250)
    The failure of the London experiment may keep entities in the U.S. from trying the same thing.
    • Since when does the failure of omnigovernment policies in one place or time dissuade people from wanting to try those things again?

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Companies are already exchanging EMRs.
      So... it is already happening
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Exchanging individual EMRs as needed is significantly better than storing all the EMRs in a cloud. If for no other reason than the efficiency with which the records could be stolen.

        • And, given that you have some form of choice as to your health care provider, you can look at their policies and effectively opt-in or not. Once government owns all your data and stores it in their hive, you can forget choice or opt-in.

          Anytime you see freedom moving, you can bet it's in the direction of "away".

          • by jhoegl (638955)
            You assume too much on the business side.
            They already data mine anything they can get their hands on for additional profit possibilities.
            And clauses upon clauses do not allow you to "opt out" of anything. Besides, they do not have custom "opt out" options. If you dont like it, you just dont go there.
            But wait, there is more... everyone is doing it
            Businesses must keep records for 7 years, this includes hospitals, doctors offices, medical billing, insurance.
            So... yeah.
    • The failure of the London experiment may keep entities in the U.S. from trying the same thing.

      If the failure of the Soviet, Chinese, North Vietnamese, North Koreans, Cambodians, National Socialists and Fascists didn't teach the US government anything, I fail to see how the British NHS will.

    • Health care entities in the US have been using remote computing services and data storage for over 30 years.

  • How is that at all relevant?

    • by vlm (69642)

      How is that at all relevant?

      Perhaps they're following the crypto software tradition of rather than using popular public SW with known and fixed bugs designed by pros, they'll implement their own system chock full of unknown and unfixed bugs designed by amateurs.

      Dropbox is probably bigger and better engineered than anything the NHS could whip up using NIH (not invented here)

      Therefore you know, with absolute certainty, the NHS implementation and privacy violations will be worse than anything that ever happened at dropbox. Thats why its

      • Dropbox is probably bigger and better engineered than anything the NHS could whip up

        Riiiiiiiight [wired.com]

      • Dropbox is probably bigger and better engineered than anything the NHS could whip up using NIH (not invented here)

        And you have fallen into the trap of assuming that a private company must be able to do it better than a government department. Seriously, why would you think that Dropbox must be the "pros" and the NHS be "amateurs"? Dropbox was created by a couple of guys who got seed funding from a venture capital company. Given the criticism [wikipedia.org] that Dropbox has received in regards to security then it seems crazy to use that company as the epitome of professionalism.

        Here is that criticism section from Wikipedia in full in c

        • And you have fallen into the trap of assuming that a private company must be able to do it better than a government department.

          I've got news for you: government IT systems usually are produced by private companies under contract. And when it comes to the NHS their record is especially bad.

          Why HMG keeps choosing those fuckwits EDS and Accenture, I'll never know. Maybe they always give the lowest tender, yet they go over budget without fail - so why doesn't HMG just tell them to sod off?!

  • "in the cloud" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @05:11PM (#36604364)

    What's wrong with simply saying "online"? They're putting the patient records online. Medical staff will be able to access them through the internet.

    Alright, now I'll hit the submit button and send this text to the cloud!

    • What's wrong with simply saying "online"? They're putting the patient records online. Medical staff will be able to access them through the internet.

      Personally I think in a lot of these cases "the cloud" is a better descriptor than "internet". For me at least the "internet" is a bunch of websites. So if you say my settings are stored "on the internet" the mental picture I have is opening a web browser. If you say "in the cloud" then I picture a data service like Dropbox or LiveMesh.

      • Personally I think in a lot of these cases "the cloud" is a better descriptor than "internet". For me at least the "internet" is a bunch of websites. So if you say my settings are stored "on the internet" the mental picture I have is opening a web browser. If you say "in the cloud" then I picture a data service like Dropbox or LiveMesh.

        Your keywords are "personally" and "for me" and "mental picture I have"... It's not anyone else's fault that you have assigned the definition of "world-wide web" to "internet" in your own mind.

        When someone tells you that they play games on the internet, do you think of flash web games or do you think of counter-strike, world of warcraft, etc?

        And before anyone tells me how old the term "world-wide web" is, think about what terms are still used today: www, web, website, etc...

      • by rubycodez (864176)
        I thought "the cloud" was the very worst piece of meaningless IT techno-babble marketing spew, even worse than "web 2.0", until Steve Jobs said iCloud.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      What's wrong with simply saying "online"?

      "Online" is so last century. "The Cloud" is the new shiny.

    • by NoKaOi (1415755)
      Isn't the "cloud" supposed to mean you basically don't care where it is? It's just that cloud in the old network diagrams with "Internet" typed into it and we really don't care what's in there? I guess saying it's accessible on the Internet might imply you care on what server in what datacenter. Kinda like saying "they're out to get me" vs. "the black helicopters are out to get me." If they want to alleviate privacy and security concerns using the term "the cloud" just seems stupid. Why not say somethi
    • Putting it "online" could also mean they're putting it on their own servers, controlled and managed by them.
      Putting it "in the cloud" implies an outsourced, turn-key service

      Online, I wouldn't have so much of a problem with. I mean, yeah, it can be hacked, but so can their offline computer systems. Putting it "in the cloud" not only has the same weaknesses, it also exposes it to the malevolence of the third party, or any employees they may have, which is out of control of the ostensible guardians of my data.

    • by julesh (229690)

      What's wrong with simply saying "online"? They're putting the patient records online.

      Because there's an additional implication. If I have a record about you here on my computer, I can put it online by simply running some kind of server on this machine and opening a hole in my firewall for it. To put it "in the cloud" I have to contract with a third party to host it somewhere else, so that everyone (including me) accesses it remotely rather than using the original local copy.

      "Cloud" => "subcontracted I

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Clayton Christen et al predicted this type of move in "The Innovator's Prescription" published a few years ago.

    Its a key part of reducing costs in health care - having the patient record belong to the patient and be readily usable and update-able by different health providers (public, private, not for profit) that the patient sees.

    The security issues are a necessary issue that comes with doing it this way. You can't rely on anyone let alone "Mr Average" to not mislay their DVD-RW or USB thumb stick, so in t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the transition from paper records to online electronic records. This will totally solve the massive problem of theft of medical records from the wards where patients are treated and reomve all chance of the records being lost or changed maliciously. After all, I trust the banks with my online bank accounts, which have proven to be much less susceptible to identity fraud than paper records.

  • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad . c o . uk> on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @05:47PM (#36604778) Homepage

    Clinical software providers have been pushing this style of system for months now, it's hardly a "cutting edge pilot scheme"; EMIS & SystmOne are probably the furthest ahead with a lot of GP practices already using their hosted solutions for their patient records (in the case of EMIS with a caching server locally in case their link goes down).

    Doctors get R/W access over N3 (The NHS "private" network, similar to JANET) and doctors & patients can get read access over the internet if they want to.

    It's not "in the cloud" or "let's upload all our patient records to Rapidshare", it's a fucking hosted software solution, running out of a datacentre (in Leeds, in EMIS' case) on some servers, just like any other.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Quite. The article is very misleading. It is not 'the cloud', it is a well defined data centre running the specific app on dedicated machines under the control of a dedicated ASP, with dedicated private WAN connectivity (i.e. most usage is not via internet, but over the private NHS net).

      Of course, there have been a number of problems:
      1. Lack of control - a number of hospitals run highly specialist one-of-a-kind services for rare diseases, or offer highly specialised treatments, which are poorly supported by

  • That's just another way of saying: "Whoops, someone has uploaded this data on ThePirateBay".

  • Got a letter from my GP asking if my records can be computerised and shared around the country. I ticked the 'No' box and everyone thought I was being an idiot. The government has a glorious record of data stupidity and this continues that trend so I'm feeling pretty much vindicated at this point.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas

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