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E-Health cloud to give NHS patients control over data


NHS patients could soon have complete control over their medical records and the power to decide who has access to their data.

A pilot underway at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, is using cloud computing to make communication between patient, consultant and GP faster and more efficient. Researchers at Chelsea and Westminster are working with Edinburgh Napier University to show how the current paper-based system could be replaced with a next-generation e-health platform.

After 18 months in development, with the cloud integration work provided free by Flexiant, the E-Health Cloud is now ready to be tested and a demonstrator will go live on the Flexiscale public cloud next month. The demonstrator will be the first large scale deployment of the cloud in e-health.

The E-Health Cloud has the potential to offer a solution to many of the existing problems with electronic patient records in the NHS, including a lack of common patient record standards, and the inability to share between different parts of the health and social care domains.

According to Professor Bill Buchanan of Edinburgh Napier University, presenting the E-Health Cloud platform at the Innovation with Healthcare conference this month in London, “the current infrastructure in the UK often has a non-integrated approach to patient care, where data is not used effectively between GP, hospital and assisted living.

“Our system allows for data to be stored with its context, such as where it was captured, and then used in whatever way is necessary through well-managed clinical services. Security is integrated into every single transaction, and we host it on Flexiant’s cloud, to give us a scaleable and robust e-Health infrastructure.”

In future the project could be used to integrate all phases of health care treatment, from assisted living to primary and secondary healthcare, so that the same data can be used throughout.

Tony Lucas, founder of Flexiant, said: “Hosting the data in the cloud as soon as results are published means that the patient can go online and access them, sharing them in real time with everyone who needs to see them.

“They will be able to invite their GP, consultants, health carers and family members – people they trust and who need to know the results. This has massive implications for the future of patient treatment in the UK. For the first time patients can have control over their treatment and their records and that is enormously empowering.”

The demonstrator, due to go live next month, uses a unique ‘patient simulator’, which creates patient records with different clinical parameters such as body temperature and blood pressure, to represent different patient illnesses. This is designed to show how the service can be used in clinical diagnostics, with a risk assessment score or early warning score (EWS) to identify problems early.

The overall aim of the demonstrator is to increase public trust in next generation healthcare. The security of patient records will be critical to the success of the pilot and Flexiant will implement a multi-factor authentication process on the demonstrator using technology that builds on and integrates seamlessly with existing NHS security systems.

Key clinical services can then be accessed from a range of devices, including web pages and mobile phones. A key focus is on the identification of the role of the clinical person, typically using multiple identification methods, in order to gain the rights to certain services. This integrates with a new governance policy, which defines the overall rights of clinicians to the access to clinical services.

Importantly, patients will have full control over who has access to their data. The developed system uses new identity checking methods, including mobile phone checking and trusted identity providers like Facebook or Paypal.

The key players in the project are Professor Buchanan, from Edinburgh Napier University, Professor Derek Bell, clinical lead at Chelsea and Westminster, Professor Christoph Thuemmler, Dr Lu Fan and Dr Elias Ekonomou. At present the e-Health platform has been created as both a private E-Health Cloud within Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and also as a public demonstrator on the Flexiant public cloud.

A Chelsea and Westminster spokesman said: “Our Foundation trust is at the forefront for providing technological innovations in the hospital clinical environment, to improve patient care. Implementation of the cloud infrastructure at the hospital will be one of many enhancements made to patient care by Professor Derek Bell through his role as the director of NWL CLARHC which has an ethos of closing the second translational gap and bringing research into practice.”

The two year project is funded by the Technology Strategy Board and EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council).


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