NHS England causes confusion about WhatsApp

14th August 2017 by Dr Felix Jackson

In a bid to clarify the NHS stance on the use of messaging apps by health and care workers, an NHS England spokesperson was quoted by the HSJ today saying that they can be a useful way for staff to communicate.

But the position is already crystal clear according to NHS Digital's guidance:

"Don't put patient, sensitive or security classified information on social media [which includes messaging apps like WhatsApp]; this would breach data protection laws or patient confidentiality and result in a security incident."(1)

Unfortunately by saying doctors, nurses and others can use WhatsApp or other non-compliant consumer messaging platforms for work, but must never use to share patient confidential information, they are asking teams to operate in a very difficult position. They are saying health and care workers can use it, but each individual must take full responsibility should a breach occur.

So, we know that health and care workers need a reliant communications tool to use at work for named patient information which they know is compliant with NHS and data protection rules so they don't have to worry about accidentally sharing confidential information and can focus on delivering the best care.

It is clear from my daily conversations with doctors that information is regularly being shared that identifies patients. And, with recent revelations that the majority of data breaches in the UK happens via human error in the health sector, this guidance from NHS England clearly isn’t helpful.

It’s time health and care workers had access to a secure, compliant and tailored platform which allows them to use the latest tech to continue delivering great care, without ever having to worry about compromising patient confidentiality.

medCrowd apps are now being tested widely by doctors, nurses and others across the NHS and beyond.

Join medCrowd now to work together more effectively while keeping confidential patient data safe.

(1) NHS Digital's Use of Social Media User Guide issued on 23rd May 2017.