The worst kept secret in healthcare

Let’s face it, at one time or another we’ve all been guilty of cutting corners to get the job done. For someone like me, an entrepreneur working in tech, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s usually considered a good thing. Not so in healthcare.

If I asked you to take out your phone and give it to me right now, would I be able to scroll through your photos and messages and find images of patients mixed in with pictures of your kids, last weekend’s BBQ and your latest holiday snaps? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably breaking the law. But I bet you already know that. 

Well, you’re not alone. Here’s what we know:

  • 93% of doctors use their phone at work and 89% use it to capture medical images –  73% admit to storing these images with personal photos, and 72% want a secure way to share clinical information.1
  • Patient consent is only documented 18% of the time when capturing images, despite data protection laws like GDPR and BMC guidelines requiring it.2
  • Healthcare accounts for 79% of all reported data breaches and has the highest cost per breach of any industry.3

In a way, I hope I’ve scared you because I have a solution and this is its story.

The creation of FotoConsent

In early 2018, an orthopaedic surgeon, a data protection lawyer and an app development company came together to create a solution to this problem. The doctor was concerned that the way he was using his smartphone would not comply with GDPR. He needed a way to record patient consent, allow consent to be withdrawn and data deleted, share the data freely with the patient, and provide compliance audits to employers and regulators… the list went on.

Dialogue with other doctors revealed that the problem was in fact endemic. What healthcare professionals needed was a secure app with intuitive functionality that balanced their needs with those of healthcare providers and patients, and all had to comply with data law obligations.

By early 2019, a prototype mobile app had been developed based on an end-to-end encrypted system similar to blockchain. FotoConsent was born. 2019 was a big year in other ways too – it was the year I joined the team. 

Their story immediately resonated with me. Perhaps clinical data sharing, in general, was the real problem? In 2016 my late father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. From the start he took charge, searching for and finding the leading experts and latest treatments. He had to actively manage the gathering and sharing of his medical information and there was no easy way to get the scans, test results and reports he needed. After great effort and countless emails, he assembled his own team of doctors and advisors that I am convinced added months to his life. Could FotoConsent enable others to do what my father had to work so hard to achieve?

Simply based on my own experience, and that of my father, I think it will. When I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2020, I had to take an MRI of my knee to a specialist. I was given a CD. On arrival it was promptly thrown in the bin and I was sent for another scan. I mean, who has a CD drive these days?

Turns out, repeated tests are a symptom of broader data sharing issues. Studies have shown that up to one in five medical imaging tests are duplicates.4 That’s no small number, or cost, when you consider 42 million were carried out by NHS England in 2021.5

Where are we now?

Add a global pandemic, a boom in tele-medicine, remote monitoring and personalised care (plus a boat load of development), where are we now?

Well, we have a vision: Improve the way clinical data is captured, shared and protected. 

And we have a secure, patient-in-the-loop clinical data sharing and collaboration platform that automates and helps you manage your data protection obligations.

This isn’t the end of my story though. It’s just the beginning of one you can be part of. Thanks to the support of the amazing people at DigitalHealth.London and their Launchpad programme we are pleased to be launching our public beta.

We’re looking for healthcare professionals of all types and disciplines to join our Early Adopter Programme. So, if you want to keep using your phone without breaking the law, please register your interest here: https://www.fotoconsent.co.uk/contact-us

For more information about FotoConsent’s features and benefits please check out our website: www.fotoconsent.co.uk


References:

  1. The ownership and clinical use of smartphones by doctors and nurses in the UK
  2. Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine, 2014
  3. Health IT Security, 5th January 2021
  4. Centre for Information Technology Leadership at Harvard University (CITL)
  5. Diagnostic Imaging Dataset Annual Statistical Release 2020/21

DigitalHealth.London is delighted to publish blogs by the NHS staff and digital health companies we support through our programmes, as well as sector thought-leaders, experts and academics. Any opinions expressed within blogs published on our website are those of the author and not necessarily held by DigitalHealth.London. For more information, or if you would like to write a blog for our website, please email info@digitalHealth.london.

FotoConsent is part of the DigitalHealth.London Launchpad which is part of the Accelerator programme.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

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