Norton Rose Fulbright’s insurance and data protection lawyers have assisted the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) in its initiative with SAMI Consulting, which explores the techniques needed to shift the medical profession and insurers towards sharing electronic health records (EHRs) to improve access to insurance for customers.
Partner Noleen John, associate Fiona Bundy-Clarke and senior knowledge lawyer Laura Hodgson provide legal support for a report entitled ‘Shaping the future of medical records and protection insurance: Building trust in electronic medical information transfer systems’.
This report for the CII considers the future digitisation of the transfer of medical records of people seeking protection insurance. The report considers the current situation, the factors driving change for the future and considers possible positive outcomes. As people become increasingly accustomed to the storage and transfer of information electronically, the current slow transfer of medical un-digitised information between health professionals and insurers does not always provide the best outcomes for patients, insurance professionals or medical professionals. Issues include unnecessary delays, the time and effort involved in redacting analogue reports and the high potential for incomplete or excessive information to be supplied. Concerns around trust require robust safeguards to be developed before the sharing of medical information becomes commonplace.
Noleen John commented:
“The report highlights the clear advantages of having electronic health records. For consumers, it is considered that greater digitalisation could lead to greater trust and claims certainty as underwriting could benefit from a richer and more reliable pool of data.
“Digitisation could also assist in providing greater access to insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions. For GPs, greater digitalisation in general could create significant cost savings and streamline processes for receiving medical records, which could have further implications for the effectiveness of medical treatment. The report also identifies current barriers to change.”
The report has led to five recommendations to ensure that the future of electronic health records meet public expectations of data security. These are:
- The need to harness the support of independent financial advisers to advocate for electronic records.
- The need for relevant stakeholders to develop a joint Code of Practice in consultation with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- GPs’ representatives and the National Data Guardian should consider the legal and ethical ramifications of the role of data controllers (currently, General Practitioners) passing on information.
- The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Financial Conduct Authority should consult on what reassurances may need to be given to the public about the stewardship of personal data in electronic records.
- The insurance industry should seek to be involved in an independent debate about how a ‘patient wallet’ might operate in relation to customer interactions with non-NHS users. If necessary, it should consider the use of external facilitation to help overcome historical disagreements and distrust.
A working group was formed to assist the authors in the report with stakeholders from the medical profession, the insurance industry, the IFA sector, Barclays, the National Data Guardian and lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright.
The final report can be found here.