A report from a panel of health and tech experts says that NHS doctors may be using Snapchat to send patient scans to each other.
The panel, chaired by former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Julian Huppert, said that using Snapchat or camera apps in this manner is ‘clearly insecure, risky and non-auditable way of operating.’
The report said that doctors may use camera apps to record particular details of patient information in a convenient format. The panel concluded that the “digital revolution has largely bypassed the NHS”.
The report, by DeepMind Health (DMH), which is owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, was commissioned for an annual independent review of the company’s work, which involves introducing and testing new technology for the NHS.
Early in July, the Information Commissioner’s Office found that London’s Royal Free hospital failed to comply with the Data Protection Act when it handed over the personal data of 1.6 million patients to DMH.
Dr Huppert said: “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.
“Many records are insecure, paper-based systems which are unwieldy and difficult to use. Seeing the difference that technology makes in their own lives, clinicians are already manufacturing their own technical fixes.
“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.”
He went on to say that it was “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”.
The panel included Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet, Professor Donal O’Donoghue, consultant renal physician at Salford Royal hospital and Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.