Is the cloud the right place to store medical records?

Have you ever been referred to a medical consultant only to find he knows little to nothing about your medical history?

That could all be about to change if a UK pilot project is successful. Run by Edinburgh Napier University and researchers at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the trial will see patient records stored in a cloud eHealth internet platform, thus speeding up communication between patients, GPs and consultants.

The University’s director of the Centre for Distributed Computing, Networks and Security, Professor Bill Buchanan pointed out that the UK currently has a non-integrated approach to patient care and information is not shared effectively.

The pilot will use a ‘patient simulator’ to create simulated patient records with different parameters such as blood pressure and body temperature. By storing this information in the cloud, patients could then access the results online and share them in real time with anyone who needs to see them.

Patients would be able to invite people they trust, such as their GP, medical specialist, carers and members of their family, giving the patient a valuable control over their records.

One of the main aims of the pilot is to encourage the public to trust cloud based healthcare. A tall order when you consider the number of highly publicised hacking attacks we’ve heard about this year.

From a patient’s perspective, having their medical records in the cloud brings great advantages, especially if they move home and have to change doctor. At present it takes several months for medical records to find their way from one GP to another.

What other advantages, or disadvantages, could we as patients see if our medical records were stored in the cloud?

Anders Bjornsbo is Managing Director of e-conomic, a Web-based accounting system that exploits the opportunities of the Internet for easy-to-use, flexible and secure accounting solutions.