SnapChat and fax machines – report finds that ‘the digital revolution has bypassed the NHS’

Written by Sam Trendall on 7 July 2017 in News
News

Report from DeepMind Health finds that health service has a haphazard hotchpotch of digital, paper, and other improvised systems

A report has found that the NHS buys more fax machines than any other organisation in the world, while its doctors use SnapChat to send patients’ data to colleagues. 

The DeepMind Health Independent Review Panel Annual Report characterised the health service’s technology and operational infrastructure as haphazard and piecemeal. A single trust, it claimed, could use as many as 160 different computer systems – as well as paper filing methods, and various workarounds deployed by individual staff.


Related content


“The digital revolution has largely bypassed the NHS, which, in 2017, still retains the dubious title of being the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines,” said the report. “Many records are insecure paper-based systems which are unwieldy and difficult to use.”

It added: “Seeing the difference that technology makes in their own lives, clinicians are already manufacturing their own technical fixes.”

Such fixes reportedly include clinical staff using personal devices and consumer apps to share patient information.

“They may use SnapChat to send scans from one clinician to another, or camera apps to record particular details of patient information in a convenient format,” the report said. “It is difficult to criticise these individuals, given that this makes their job possible. However, this is clearly an insecure, risky, and non-auditable way of operating, and cannot continue."

This mixed and muddled system has evolved as a result of “digital solutions [being] laid on top of the hundreds of different ageing IT systems employed” within NHS Trusts, the report said.

The panel that compiled the report – which is intended to be a yearly publication – was funded by the Google-owned DeepMind Health entity. 

But, in his foreword, chair Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat MP, said that the panel has complete autonomy and independence, and is free to spend its £50,000 annual budget as it sees fit. Other members of the nine-strong panel include ex-Government Digital Service leader Mike Bracken, and tech-focused venture capitalist Eileen Burbidge – who also serves as a member of the prime minister’s Business Advisory Group.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Can Hull become the world’s smartest city?
21 November 2019

The city has ambitious plans, and benefits from ubiquitous access to full-fibre broadband. PublicTechnology talks to the council’s digital and IT chief to find out more

Royal Navy seeks digital services partner
15 November 2019

Transformation programme looks to appoint supplier to two-year contract worth up to £10m

NHS App to allow biometric login
11 October 2019

Newly released code allows developers to embed additional security features

How digital records are changing NHS care in Wales
9 October 2019

e-Health records are enabling pharmacists to make informed decisions about treating patients and relieve pressure on GPs, writes Gill Hitchcock 

Related Sponsored Articles

Three best-practice measures in the event of a data breach
3 December 2019

To have the best chance of an effective response and a full recovery, organisations should have a robust incident response strategy in place, says BT 

How to take control of your network
26 November 2019

We hear from BT about why delivering a great customer experience depends on your network visibility 

The future of voice: how to successfully transform your legacy voice estate
19 November 2019

Organisations are increasingly having to replace their legacy voice infrastructure as traditional analogue and ISDN lines are being phased out. BT talk about how they can help the transition...

Case Study: Cryptocurrency, connectivity and the cloud
12 November 2019

BT presents findings from cryptocurrency firm Gemini on how they're providing customers with direct connectivity thanks to the Radianz network