Be honest to patients in how you use their data

New guidance from the Inform­ation Commissioner’s Office (ICO) aims to support healthcare organisations to ensure they are transparent with people about how their personal information is being used.

The UK data protection regulator hopes this should provide regulatory certainty about how people can be properly informed. 

Under data protection law, people have a right to know what is happening to their personal information provided in confidence to trusted practitioners.

Anne Russell, head of regulatory policy projects at the ICO, said: ‘Being transparent is essential to building public trust in health and social care services. 

‘If people clearly understand how and why their personal information is being used, they are likely to feel empowered to share their health information to both access care and support initiatives such as medical research. 

‘As new technologies are developed and deployed in the health sector, our personal information is becoming more important than ever to boost the efficiency and public benefit of these systems. 

‘With this bespoke guidance, we want to support health and social care organisations by improving their understanding of effective transparency, ensuring that they are clear, open and honest with everyone whose personal information is being used.’ 

The guidance aims to help organisations understand the definition of and assess appropriate levels of transparency. It also provides practical steps to developing effective transparency information.

Following a public consultation earlier this year, it incorporates feedback from health and social care organisations across the UK. 

Check out Independent Pract­itioner Today’s important feature on this subject in our June issue, published on 11 June.