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Fit for Purpose: Introducing data mapping for a healthier NHS

3 min read

There is an overwhelming amount of data collected and stored in the NHS. On one hand, it can be an incredibly useful indicator about the effectiveness of service delivery, helping to inform future health programmes and improve diagnoses and treatment. However, the abundance of information could present a very real threat to security and compliance if it is not monitored and managed appropriately.

Public confidence in data-sharing has been tested in recent years by several high-profile breaches. In 2017, the global WannaCry attack led to nearly 20,000 cancelled hospital appointments in the UK. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) estimates the breach cost the NHS £92m in direct costs and lost output as a result of disruption to services. This doesn’t factor in the penalties that could have been levied by GDPR, or the class action lawsuits from patients that could have followed.

The reason the NHS is such a rich target for cybercriminals is because it continues to rely on older technologies and operating systems, leaving them susceptible to attack. Earlier this year it was revealed that the NHS is still a major purchaser of fax machines, which have long been redundant in the private sector. Given the organisation is so sprawling and complex – and driven by the need to be cost-effective – it isn’t always possible to run the latest next-generation security tools, or integrate different moving parts in the most secure way.

What is certain is that the NHS would be unable to cope with enormous pay outs or fines in the aftermath of a serious incident. Could a severe cyberattack or data breach ultimately bring the end to free healthcare?

Mitigating risk with data mapping

Despite apprehensions around information security and compliance, the public still has faith in NHS organisations to manage patient data, and there is still strong support for information being shared to improve patient care and research. It’s therefore imperative that the NHS has a handle on what data is being stored, how it is used and what protection is in place to keep it secure.

Source: https://www.healthcareglobal.com/public-health/fit-purpose-introducing-data-mapping-healthier-nhs