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GPs putting confidentiality at risk

23rd June 2010

A survey carried out by Pulse has revealed that many GPs are using emails in order to communicate with their patients but are not applying appropriate security procedures.

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According to the survey of over 500 doctors, almost one fifth (18%) said they had emailed patients in order to provide a consultation.

More than three-quarters of the GPs (77%) had done this by using a secure health service email address. However half of the GPs said they had sent the information to a patient's personal email address, risking a security breach.

12% of GPs reported that they used encryption software to disguise a patient's identification details and only 8% said they made use of their practice's security measures while sending the email.

99% of GPs did not make use of the Connecting for Health Communicator functionality.

Dr David Lloyd, medical director of out-of-hours IT at Connecting for Health and a GP in Harrow, Middlesex, stated that enhancements to the Communicator system would be trialled in a pilot in late 2010 in order to get more doctors to use it and to make it "quicker and simpler".

"I’m gratified to hear 78% [of GPs] use an NHS email address - that shows GPs are aware of security issues," he added.

 

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