Protect Patients' Electronic Records - Wheatley

Release Date: 
Friday, May 8, 2015 - 18:15

Opposition Spokesman on Science, ICT & Digital Society Development, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, says he has taken note of recent announcements by Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, and is again calling on the Government to accelerate legislation regarding Data Protection and Privacy.

The Opposition Spokesman was commenting on the proposed Electronic Patient Administration System announced by the Health Minister in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate, which would see the digitization of patients' records across the nation’s health facilities.

Dr Wheatley said: “While the Health Minister's plans to implement an Electronic Patient Administration System are welcomed, we must make sure that we get it right. It is extremely important that patients' records in the digital domain are protected, especially in light of the fact that electronic records are more accessible, portable and are stored on systems that may be susceptible to cyber-attacks.”

He continued: “Patients' records are confidential and must be treated as such, irrespective of the format in which they are stored. Currently, the country has no comprehensive Data Protection and Privacy Legislation that would foster an environment where the privacy of electronic patient records is better protected.”

The Opposition Spokesman went on to say: "It is no longer acceptable to implement technology of this nature without taking a holistic approach to the process. The protection of medical records and the rights of citizens to access their records must be held in the highest regard, with supporting laws and governance structures underpinning them.”

Dr. Wheatley said in closing: “The impending Electronic Patient Administration System is a step in the right direction, but in light of this administration's propensity for putting the cart before the horse, we are concerned that an initiative may come on stream without the necessary laws and supporting structures being in place. We do the Jamaican people a disservice when useful initiatives are undertaken in ways that undermine their effectiveness."

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