It is an inescapable fact that working within the healthcare sector means the use of potentially sensitive or confidential data. Treatment and care of individuals requires personal details to be acquired, accessed and maintained. The result of this essentially concerns patient information being stored by healthcare organisations, and with millions of records needing to be kept safe and secure, digital security is now more relevant than ever.
Digital security can be worrisome for practitioners and healthcare organisations around the country. To properly maintain so much data is a task in itself, but when considering the requirements of the GDPR and tightening regulations from other authorities, the whole process becomes even more daunting.
Medical services are not exempt from new rules, placing further responsibility on the management of your patient’s data. You are liable for the consequences of data breaches if not managed properly. GDPR fines can hit in the millions, which is an alarming thought — especially considering the sheer volume of data you need to store and use.
Source: Digital security in healthcare: major factors affecting patient safety
Public health officials regularly collect and analyse data to map disease, spot patterns, identify causes and respond to outbreaks. Surveillance, when conducted ethically, is the foundation for programs to promote human well-being at the population level and can contribute to reducing inequalities.
However, it is not without risks for participants and sometimes poses ethical dilemmas. It can lead to harm if people’s privacy is violated, or they are stigmatized on the basis of the information they provide about themselves.
The WHO have produced Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance – the first international framework of its kind. It outlines 17 ethical guidelines that can assist everyone involved in public health surveillance, including officials in government agencies, health workers, NGOs and the private sector.
To read the Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance
Since 2001, EU rules have required the medicines we buy in the EU to contain a package leaflet which should provide us – the user, with clear information on the medicines we are taking – including the name of the product and the manufacturer, therapeutic indications, dosage, shelf life and adverse reactions.
The Commission has recently put forward recommendations on how they could be improved to better meet the needs of patients and healthcare professionals.
To read the recommendations on improved medicine packaging on the ec.europa.eu website
The latest report in the OECD’s series ‘Better policies for better health’ is “The Economics of Patient Safety: strengthening a value-based approach to reducing patient harm at national level”.
It makes the point that a principal objective of health care is to do no harm and to ensure that the benefits of treatment outweigh its deleterious effects. However, unnecessary harm to patients has been part of health care for as long as medicine has been practiced and continues to occur. In recent decades a greater research focus has examined and quantified the extent and costs of patient safety failure across countries and healthcare settings. The increasing complexity of health care also means a higher risk of harm requiring greater vigilance, focus and investment to ensure care is as safe and effective as possible.This report:
- estimates the cost of patient harm
- outlines a strategy for policy-makers and healthcare leaders to improve patient safety with limited resources.
To download the full report on the Economics of Patient Safety from the oecd.org website
The EU’s expert group on health systems’ performance assessment has produced a report ‘Blocks: tools and methodologies to assess integrated care in Europe’.
They did so for two main reasons, firstly, at this stage of technological development and with current demographic patterns, we cannot rely on homogeneous, top-down healthcare solutions. Secondly, every patient is different and we need to develop patient-centred care tailored to individual needs and which allows them to be involved in their own care.
They have measured both the degree of integration of care and the performance of integrated care systems.
AAL (previously known as Ambient Assisted Living) has launched its Smart Ageing Prize – a €50,000 Challenge Prize to find the best innovation in internet connected devices and technologies (Internet of Things) that will empower older adults to achieve the quality of life they aspire to socially and independently.
The Prize aims to find innovations that improve connectivity between older adults, devices and technologies related to any aspect of their life (e.g. home, social, work, study, transport or services). The idea should present a business opportunity which has the potential to be commercially viable. Applications must involve older adults in the development and testing of the technology.
AAL will help the most innovative ideas turn into real products that can be financially sustainable. Fifteen of the most promising applications will be chosen as Finalists and will be invited to a social innovation mentoring academy in Brussels in July to progress their ideas. Each of the Finalists will be awarded a €500 grant to develop a prototype to demonstrate at the Academy.
The winner will be awarded a prize of €50,000 at the AAL Forum in Switzerland in late September (www.aalforu.eu).
The Prize is open to individuals, groups and organisations in the 28 member countries of the European Union, as well as Israel, Canada, Norway and Switzerland. The deadline for applications is Friday 13 May 2016 at Midday (12pm) Central European Time.
For more information about the Smart Ageing Prize, on the aal-europe.eu website.
The EMPATiE project has analysed patient empowerment (PE) for patients with chronic diseases. It has produced a catalogue of best practices in PE, an analysis of barriers to PE, suggestions on how best to transfer good practices between countries and suggestions for EU collaboration on PE over the next decade.
To download the final report, click here on http://ec.europa.eu