Patient power needs to drive information sharing, says Public Policy Projects

Patient power is the secret to information sharing, according to a report by health think tank Public Policy Projects, supported by Capita.

The report STPs: how information sharing can turbocharge system working, concludes that the appropriate role for patients in information sharing is widely misunderstood. The patient is “often viewed as an obstacle to be overcome, but a more progressive view of the patient can unlock many of the problems which STPs are encountering”.

Organisations and staff often treat patient information as if it belongs to them, so they believe they have the right to determine whether and how it is shared.

“However, if everyone agrees patients own their data, then once they have authorised its sharing for appropriate uses the question becomes not whether the information should be shared, but how do health and care staff fulfil the wishes of the patient? Sharing is no longer an option – it becomes a duty to fulfil the patient’s wishes.

Sharing is no longer an option – it becomes a duty to fulfil the patient’s wishes

“If STPs took this approach, patient consent would move from being a hindrance to information sharing to a facilitator and accelerator of it.”

The report also called for clear national leadership on resolving problems around data governance, pointing out that at present “different STPs are coming up with different answers to the same problems; this piecemeal approach is unlikely to deliver optimal solutions”.

The report was based on a discussion chaired by Public Policy Project chairman Stephen Dorrell and included: Sir Sam Everington, chair, Tower Hamlets CCG and Clinical lead, North East London STP; Ursula Gallagher, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice and Integrated Care, Care Quality Commission; Wendy Thomson, Chief Executive, Norfolk County Council and Lead, Norfolk and Waveney STP; and Neil Griffiths, Market Director for Health, Capita.

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