Concerns around data quality, security and accuracy need to be met before mobile data caches take off, says expert

Out-Law News | 30 Aug 2013 | 2:33 pm | 1 min. read

Consumers need to have confidence in the quality, security and accuracy of their data stored in mobile data caches before the gadgets become widely used and relied upon to help in the provision of health care, an expert has said.

Technology law specialist Matthew Godfrey-Faussett of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that businesses that develop products capable of storing up-to-date, official medical records in a secure way could exploit a gap in the market.

He said that although there is "growth in the availability and interest" in mobile data caches used for storing health records, he predicted that there would need to be "an element of 'buyer beware'" surrounding some of the current products available for consumers to buy on the market.

"The concept of mobile digital medical records already exists and, to some extent at least, gives health care professionals electronic access to information about patients to treat them," Godfrey-Faussett said. "An example of this is the 'CHI' number that is used to identify patients in Scotland. Currently, though, many of the computer systems through which medical data is recorded and stored are not linked or contain incomplete information. The Government has outlined its vision for a paperless NHS and a new system for enabling health care professionals to access the single medical records of patients." 

"There is a gap in the market for device manufacturers to develop products that can access these systems to ensure medical data stored on mobile data caches are updated automatically," he said. "Any product that relies on data being updated and filed by patients is unlikely to be reliable enough for health care professionals to act upon with confidence in an emergency."

"There needs to be trust in the quality of the information, the security of any system that relies on biometrics to access the data and where the information is entirely up-to-date and accurate. There are obvious health dangers involved where patients are treated on the basis of historical, inaccurate or incomplete data," the expert said.

Godfrey-Faussett was commenting after a new 'Medical Keyring' was launched by US-based company SmartMetric. The device allows individuals to carry with them "their complete medical files". The files are only accessible by scanning the device owners' fingerprints using a miniature scanner built into the device.

According to a report by CNET, the contents of the Medical Keyring can be managed using a specific app.