Patient-identifiable will soon be extracted from GP records and sent to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in almost a hundred pilot practices, before the system is rolled out nationally, NHS England have said.
NHS England said 82 ‘early implementer’ practices were selected to take part and pilot the so-called ‘care.data’ extracts, and feedback from these practices is already feeding into guidance for the national implementation. Currently the practices are reaching out to patients to make sure they are given an opportunity to be made aware of how their information might be used and shared and what to do if they are not happy for this to happen.
A small number of practices initially selected to be ‘early implementers’ opted out of taking part, but will use the system as it is rolled out nationally ‘towards the end of the summer’.
As part of care.data extracts patient identifiable information such as diagnoses, treatments, NHS number, date of birth, postcode, gender, ethnicity and other information will be extracted and sent to the HSCIC.
At the HSCIC primary care data will be linked with other data sources, such as secondary and social care. Researchers and private companies will be able to bid to access anonymised and patient identifiable data.
Jeremy Hunt promised earlier this year that patients’ objections to their data being uploaded will be respected, other than in exceptional circumstances, such as in the event of a civil emergency. Patients will be able to object to their data leaving the GP practice, or can agree to it leaving the practice but object to it leaving the HSCIC. A flag will be added to their record in this case.
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Implementation of the care.data system has begun with a small number of practices as part of the first phase. 82 practices were selected to take part.
‘Early implementers were selected on the basis they would represent a wide cross-section of users who would work with us to test the process, the messages to patients and the guidance to general practice, to enable us to make any changes or improvements prior to wider rollout.
They added: ‘Valuable feedback has already been received from a number of those early implementer practices and we are currently incorporating improvements and suggestions into our guidance and communications materials in readiness for national implementation.