Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

The Role of Technology in Promoting Data Sharing in Healthcare

The huge opportunities that open up in connection with computerized medicine give rise to new problems. These problems include the implementation of digital medical information exchange between various medical institutions.

The availability and completeness of such information has a number of advantages related to both efficiency and economy of the therapeutic and diagnostic process. This is for medical staff.

The promptness of access to up-to-date patient data expands the capabilities and ensures the convenience of the staff's work. It is also of particular importance to hospitals and emergency medicine. Ambulance crews regularly take patients who are unconscious or unable to communicate to the hospital. However, even when interacting with the patient or accompanying persons, doctors are often unable to obtain the necessary personal data.

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The preliminary availability of medical and diagnostic information about the patient, available in the hospital where the patient previously received medical services, can provide care teams with further information that the patient himself is unable to report.

Both technological security of such information and confidentiality must be guaranteed.

This problem is complex and includes many components. Today we will consider organizational, legal and technological aspects.

In most countries, electronic health records are legally regulated and standardized.

As a typical example of a state that has come a long way in solving such problems, we’ll consider the United States.

Back in 1996, Congress adopted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which included a section on ways to preserve electronic medical records' integrity and reliability. According to that law, the creator of electronic medical records is fully responsible for EHR file protection.

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In 2009 the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was adopted. The law was intended to minimize legal, financial and technical barriers to EHR implementation. Article 4 of that law specifies that patient records must be digitally signed.

Although the number of health information exchange systems increased, only a few covered a sufficiently large number of medical workers and patients. This was to significantly affect medical care quality.

The situation began to change only after the adoption in 2010 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Changes in the provision and payment of medical care under the main insurance systems caused by these reforms have been a powerful incentive to save money by preventing duplication of studies, analyses and diagnostic procedures.

According to the Data Protection Act, there are 4 main principles which improve the flow of information about the health status of the population for consumers and health care providers:


Accessibility for consumers

This means consumers can easily and safely access their own electronic medical information and send it to any location. They can also find out how their information can be shared, and be sure it will be used effectively and safely for their health and society.

When healthcare providers share information about a patient's medical history, current health status, and treatment plan, they can work together to provide coordinated care. This can result in better outcomes for the patient, as well as reducing the risk of medical errors or duplicate testing. A proactive approach to health services management is also possible through this process.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) found that patients who access their health information electronically are more likely to feel in control of their healthcare and to engage in preventive health behaviors.

Sharing information about a patient's medication history, allergies, and other relevant information can help care professionals avoid prescribing medications or treatments that could harm the patient.

Thus, access to comprehensive patient information can help make more accurate diagnoses, as they provide a complete picture of the patient's medical history and current symptoms.

Patient consent is a critical component of healthcare information sharing. In the UK, patients have the right to control how their personal information is used and shared. Carers must obtain patients' consent before sharing information.

Patients must consent voluntarily before disclosure. This means that they must be fully informed about what information is being shared. They must also know why it is being made available, who will have access to it, and any potential risks or benefits of exposing their information. Service users have the right to revoke their consent to information sharing at any time.

In some cases, patients may not be able to give their own consent. For example, if they are unconscious or have a mental health condition. In these cases, proxy consent may be obtained from a legal representative or next of kin.

However, there are certain situations where patient consent may not be required. This is such as in cases where there is a legal obligation to share information, or where sharing information is necessary to protect the patient's health or safety.

No data blocking

When a patient moves from one medical organization to another, all his big data must be provided whenever it is needed, in accordance with current legislation. Medical data should not be a trade secret.

From the point of view of the care system, this achieves continuity of work with information and increases treatment efficiency.

Data sharing leads to an increase in patients' satisfaction with the quality of treatment. It also leads to a positive perception of medical institutions' activities by regulatory authorities.


In the UK, there are several standards and frameworks for medical data sharing. The most critical ones are the following:

  • NHS Digital's Data Access Request Service
  • The Health and Social Care Network (HSCN)
  • Interoperability Standards for Health and Social Care
  • NHS Digital's Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

These standards and legal acts aim to ensure clinicians share health and confidential information in a secure, ethical and effective manner.


Information Governance as a Technological Task

To optimize patient care, medical institutions acquire and implement clinical, administrative and financial information systems.

  • Practice Management Software (PMS)
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR)
  • PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) and others.

According to a survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), 85% of healthcare providers reported sharing patient information electronically with other providers, hospitals, or patients.

It is assumed that all information arising in patient care will be created, processed and stored in these software solutions.

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PACS will process and store all medical images obtained from specialized equipment (for example, a body chart).

In the EHR all data about the patient that is relevant for improving the quality of his service should be stored in a personalized form. This includes demographic information, service history, diagnoses and allergies.

The ONC also found that healthcare providers who use electronic health records (EHRs) are more likely to report improvements in patient care coordination and communication.

Management and financial information is maintained in a PMS. For example, it helps you perform staff planning, appointment scheduling and online booking. You can also create reports, templates, and also use medical CRM advantages.

The introduction of software solutions for the organization of medical information exchange is mainly initiated by the state, as world experience shows. The result of these initiatives, in addition to improving the quality of service, is also a reduction in the cost of organizing the treatment process (for example, by preventing repeated studies or analyses). Sharing health information can also help researchers identify patterns and trends in health outcomes. This can lead to new treatments and interventions.

Not to mention that sharing information about outbreaks of infectious diseases or other public health issues can help healthcare providers and public health officials respond quickly to contain the spread of the disease and protect the public's health.

Practice Management Software for Patient Confidentiality

PMS plays a crucial role in helping UK care services organize patient confidentiality. Here are some ways PMS can support it.

Access controls

PMS systems have built-in access controls that allow specialists to limit access shared data sets. This can help ensure that care records are only accessed by authorized individuals who have a legitimate need to know.

Encryption and security measures

PMS systems encrypt and store patient information securely. This can prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.

Audit trails

PMS systems track and record who accesses information and when. By using it, providers monitor for unauthorized access or suspicious activity.

Confidentiality agreements

The system stores and tracks data-sharing agreements. This is done to prove the guilt of data controllers in case of violation of the confidentiality agreement. Its storage in PMS also ensures that everyone knows their responsibilities and obligations to protect patient privacy.

PMS systems can help healthcare providers protect patient confidentiality by providing tools and technologies designed to keep healthcare data secure. They can limit access to only those who need it, and ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities to protect patient privacy.

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