General Data Protection Regulation – will you be ready?

From 25 May 2018, all health organisations and arm’s-length bodies will need to demonstrate compliance with new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. GDPR will replace the Data Protection Directive (1995) | NHS Employers

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Employers are encouraged to plan ahead for the operational changes and consider how they will raise awareness of the new requirements and evidence they meet them. This will include:

  • Planning and resourcing the appointment of a data protection officer whose job description is compliant with GDPR requirements.
  • Revising information governance and related policies, addressing accountability, data protection officer reporting arrangements and statutory reporting requirements.
  • Creating an action/project plan which includes a set of measures to meet the requirements, ideally endorsed by the board.

Read the full overview here

Improving the management of digital government

Improving the management of digital government argues that the digitisation of public services in the UK is happening too slowly | Institute for Government

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It says that appointing a minister responsible for digital government would help drive change and advance standards. Digital improvements would make government cheaper, more effective and more secure. The report points to the recent NHS cyberattack as an example of the fragility in some systems being used in the public sector.

The report warns that the Government Digital Service (GDS), the Cabinet Office unit responsible for leading digital transformation of government, faces resistance from many corners of Whitehall. Without a strong minister in charge, GDS is not able to drive digital improvements in a way that meets citizens’ expectations. It sets standards for digital government, but these need to be improved and extended throughout the civil service, and with IT contractors.

The report also makes several recommendations for both GDS and Whitehall departments on how they can work better together. The Government needs to organise services around people’s needs and to urgently clarify which system citizens should use to securely identify themselves online.

 

Missing data has risked GPs’ patient care

Missing patient data that was mistakenly held in storage for years has led to around 1,700 cases of potential harm caused to GPs’ patients, according to a report published today by the National Audit Office (NAO) | OnMedica

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The NAO’s Investigation: clinical correspondence handling at NHS Shared Business Services report details the watchdog’s investigation into how NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) – an agency contracted by the government to run some back-office operations in the NHS – handled unprocessed clinical correspondence.

Significant amounts of important data on patients including test results and diagnoses were delayed mistakenly between 2011 and 2016 by the NHS Shared Business Services agency before they were delivered to hospitals and GP surgeries.

This data, which included copies of test or screening results, and communications about planned treatment following appointments with other healthcare providers, was sent by hospitals and other GPs to practices where the patient had moved away or was unknown, so needed to be redirected.

Data sharing and data protection

The CCIO and Health CIO networks have published a discussion paper Data sharing and data protection in healthcare.

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The paper addresses the issues around the regulation of data protection associated with data sharing. The paper argues sharing data saves lives, and says clinicians are currently having to choose between the risk of non-compliance with the letter of data protection law or the danger of delivering sub-standard care to their patients.

Download the full paper here

Can search engine data save lives from pancreatic cancer?

Gerd Gigerenzer discusses how search engines use big data analytics to “diagnose” your state of health | BMJ Opinion

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Image source: NIH Image Gallery – Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Image shows pancreatic desmoplasia. Pancreatic cancer is associated with a vast desmoplastic reaction in which the connective tissue around the tumor thickens and scars. 

Imagine this warning popping up on your search engine page: “Attention! There are signs that you might have pancreatic cancer. Please visit your doctor immediately.” Just as search engines use big data analytics to detect your book and music preferences, they may also “diagnose” your state of health.

Microsoft researchers have claimed that web search queries could predict pancreatic adenocarcinoma. A retrospective study of 6.4 million users of Microsoft’s search engine Bing identified first-person queries suggestive of a recent diagnosis, such as “I was told I have pancreatic cancer, what to expect.” Then the researchers went back months before these queries were made and looked for earlier ones indicating symptoms or risk factors, such as blood clots and unexplained weight loss. They concluded that their statistical classifiers “can identify 5% to 15% of cases, while preserving extremely low false-positive rates (0.00001 to 0.0001)”, and that “this screening capability could increase 5-year survival.” The New York Times reported: “The study suggests that early screening can increase the five-year survival rate of pancreatic patients to 5 to 7 percent, from just 3 percent.”

Read the full blog post here

Analysis of the time and workers needed to conduct systematic reviews of medical interventions

Borah R. et al. (2017) BMJ Open. 7:e012545

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Objectives: To summarise logistical aspects of recently completed systematic reviews that were registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) registry to quantify the time and resources required to complete such projects.

Results: The mean estimated time to complete the project and publish the review was 67.3 weeks (IQR=42). The number of studies found in the literature searches ranged from 27 to 92 020; the mean yield rate of included studies was 2.94% (IQR=2.5); and the mean number of authors per review was 5, SD=3. Funded reviews took significantly longer to complete and publish (mean=42 vs 26 weeks) and involved more authors and team members (mean=6.8 vs 4.8 people) than those that did not report funding (both p<0.001).

Conclusions: Systematic reviews presently take much time and require large amounts of human resources. In the light of the ever-increasing volume of published studies, application of existing computing and informatics technology should be applied to decrease this time and resource burden. We discuss recently published guidelines that provide a framework to make finding and accessing relevant literature less burdensome.

Read the full article here

PODCAST: Big Data – what effect is it going to have on EBM

In this discussion we went to the The Farr Institute which is a of 21 academic institutions and health partners in the UK – whose mission is to deliver high-quality, cutting-edge research using ‘big data” | BMJ Talk Medicine

We know what the problems are – but what would positive change, when it comes to the creation and use of medical evidence look like? To find out we’re doing a series of discussions at various places around the world – where we’re talking to people who have a particular insight into one area of the evidence ecosystem. Ultimately we’re collating this into what we’re calling the evidence manifesto.

Read the full over view here