Earlier this month the NHS announced that, after years of controversy, they would be scrapping the care.data scheme. But the axing of care.data doesn’t mean that data sharing in the NHS is over. Experts in healthcare remain convinced that the best way to improve standards of care is to share data between Trusts.

It is clear, however, that a unified approach to data sharing in the NHS is needed – and that security needs to be at the forefront of that approach.

But what exactly does a secure data sharing strategy look like? Well, recommendations from the Care Quality Commission, who’s recent report contributed to the scrapping of care.data, suggests that a secure data sharing strategy is thorough, and combines up-to-date technology with comprehensive staff training and education.

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Implementing such a thorough list of recommendations can be daunting and complicated, however. That’s why partners like Trustmarque are here to help NHS Trusts take control of their data security. Our extensive history working with the NHS means that we are well placed to not only help NHS Trusts implement effective security strategies, but also ensure that the solutions reached meet the exact needs of the Trust.

Define Ownership for Data Security

The first step to ensuring that data sharing in the NHS is effective and secure is to ensure that all healthcare organisations know who exactly is responsible for data security. No organisation would expect to implement a financial strategy without defined ownership – so why should data security be any different?

Until Trusts put dedicated people in charge of data security, data sharing in the NHS will remain insecure.

Education is Key

Most security breaches contain an element of human error – after all, nobody’s perfect, and nobody’s born knowing the exact rules of data security.

That’s why education is key. All NHS staff must be provided with the training, tools, and support needed to handle data securely.

Here at Trustmarque, we work with specialist partners such as The Inform Team to help organisations bring their staff up to speed with any new technologies implemented. With the thorough training provided by partners like Trustmarque and The Inform Team, NHS Trusts can be confident that their employees know exactly how to handle data safely and securely.

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Make Technology Work for You

A key recommendation of the CQC is that IT systems and data security solutions should be designed with the needs of patients and frontline care staff in mind. All too often, solutions are introduced without consulting the people they affect most.

By working with technology providers like Trustmarque, however, Trusts can be assured that the solutions offered are the solutions that best meet an organisation’s needs. We take pride in ensuring that all our solutions are bespoke, and meet the specific requirements of each organisation’s needs.

For example, when it comes to data storage, we can help Trusts decide on the best way to store their data – whether that’s in the Cloud, on-premise, or a combination of the two. We know that each NHS Trust is unique – that’s why our solutions are as well.

Modern Technology for the Modern World

Education and bespoke solutions are all well and good, but unless staff have access to hardware and software that is up-to-date and supported, they will remain vulnerable to security risks and data breaches.

Replacing every piece of technology, every time there’s an update, however, is both time consuming and extremely costly. That’s why many organisations – even NHS organisations – are beginning to move to the Cloud. With the Cloud, organisations can quickly replace outdated IT infrastructure, reduce the cost of buying expensive kit, and ensure that all systems and software are completely up-to-date.

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Keep a Record

To ensure that data sharing within the NHS is as secure as it can be, data security strategies should be regularly audited and open to external validation, according to the CQC.

Keeping track of strategies, systems, and data can be a difficult task, however. But with the help of Business Intelligence technology, Trusts can make use of powerful visualisation tools that can help Trusts and healthcare organisations monitor and report on security protocols.

BI technology – which is already being used by in innovative way by NHS Trusts such as The Christie – can also be used to predict potential areas that may cause issues in the future, thereby reducing the risk of breaches and subsequent financial penalties.

Securing the Way for Data Sharing in the NHS

The above measures (and the many more recommended by the CQC) may seem overwhelming, but they are essential for creating a thorough data security strategy – and a thorough data security strategy is essential if organisations want to pursue data sharing in the NHS.

Organisations don’t have to embark on this data security journey alone, however. With the help of Trustmarque’s experts, organisations can seamlessly move towards a secure digital age.

If you would like to know more about how you can secure your data’s organisations, and how Trustmarque can help you do so, contact us today.

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