HSE should provide secure messaging app to medical professionals

31 October 2017

Labour Party Health spokesperson Deputy Alan Kelly, has called on the HSE to provide a secure instant messaging solution following a report that 97 per cent of medical interns at University Hospital Limerick have been sharing patient medical information over Whatsapp.

The report carried out by the Royal Infirmary Hospital in Edinburgh states that instant messaging apps are ‘informally integrated into modern medicine in Ireland’.

Deputy Kelly said: 

“It is worrying that such high volumes of confidential and often very sensitive medical information are going back and forth between medical interns over Whatsapp.

“Many people have misgivings over how secure data is on Whatsapp. For example, a breach or change in WhatsApp’s privacy policy could lead to medical records that was shared over WhatsApp ending up in the wrong hands. 

“According to the research published in the BMJ Innovation Medical Journal, nine out of ten physicians felt they could not provide the best possible clinical care without using instant messaging.

“It is clear that the HSE now needs to provide a modern, secure instant messaging system in our hospitals. If an app like this is to be rolled out, a clear set of guidelines also needs to be put in place so that patients are made aware that their medical information is being transferred via a messaging service. 

“If nine out of ten doctors in one hospital feel they need systems like instant messaging in order to do their job better, doctors in other hospitals are surely feeling the same way. A secure messaging app would allow better communication among staff in our hospitals and show that our health service is able to move with the times.”


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