Using the iPad to Protect PID in the NHS

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It’s taken me a while but I’m slowly starting to appreciate the incredible little tool that my iPad is. It’s been a little neglected for the last few months but my interest was rekindled whilst doing some work at a local hospital.  The consultants all had iPads which were linked into a patient informational system.  This completely replaced the central register (paper), some rather dated looking hand held palmtops and in reality a lot of using a phone to check details.

The device’s were all networked together and each had a printer assigned so they could get paper copies of appointment times and details.  What was especially impressive was the way the devices handled printers and printouts.  In a hospital environment it is very important to keep a tight reign on patient information, in fact  there is a lot of Government legislation regarding this.  It is referred to a PID (Patient Identifiable Data) and refers to anything that could contain personal information which can be linked to a specific individual.

It’s quite simple to keep track of this information when it’s stored on a central application managed by the NHS or the hospital involved however as soon as it is printed out or stored on a USB device this becomes much, much harder.  One of the ways this particular hospital had dealt with this issue was by making use of the built in location functionality in the iPad.

They developed the application which would track the location of the consultant and assess the nearest available printer.  If the printer was in a secure area, these are designated in most NHS hospitals then the print would be allowed if it contained patient information, but this would be recorded so as to discourage non-essential print outs.  If the printer was not secure the printout would not be allowed and a message sent informing the consultant of the nearest secure printer.

This has reduced the amount of sensitive print outs and the consultants were happy as it required no specific input from then and additional training or approval for required print outs.  Instead the consultant would simply move to the location of one of the secured printers.  In reality many didn’t bother and so the volume of these unsecured paper print outs had fallen drastically without any issues.  The consultants were also allowed to use their iPads for leisure and personal purposes because no information was stored on them unlike PCs and laptops.  The doctor I was chatting to, watched the news using the BBC Iplayer iPad application using this , even when he was abroad.

There’s no doubt that this little device and the hundreds of tablets and mobile devices it has spawned are rapidly changing the way people do their jobs.  It is great to see that they are also making the work environment a little more secure at the same time as well as helping them watch things like BBC Iplayer in  their lunchtimes!