Report by CII and SAMI Consulting provides five recommendations designed to build trust in use of electronic health records
The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has today released a report examining how to improve access to insurance for consumers, by encouraging the medical profession and insurers to make a shift towards electronic medical records (EHRs).
The 'Shaping the Future of Medical Records and Protection Insurance' report outlines what work needs to take place in order to build trust in EHRs, therefore removing the reliance on paper-based GP reports, which have traditionally assisted insurers when making underwriting and claims decisions.
The report has been published by the Chartered Insurance Institute and written by SAMI Consulting. It is based on 17 interviews with a wide range of stakeholders across the medical profession, insurance sector and consumer groups, to collect evidence and desk research. In addition, input was gathered from a specially commissioned iPipeline survey of financial advice firms, and legal input from Norton Rose Fulbright LLP was also sought.
The report outlines five recommendations that need to be considered to address the challenges around the use of EHRs:
IFAs as advocates of EHR use
The insurance industry should harness IFAs as a new advocate for EHR use, and encourage insurance providers to use EHR as the default route to access medical records.
New Code of Practice
The National Data Guardian Office (NDGO) and the Information Commissioners' Office (ICO) should seek to develop a joint Code of Practice under article 40 of the GDPR, with the representatives of GPs (the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College General of Practitioners (RCGP)), the General Medical Council (GMC), the insurance industry, other external data users and the Medical Defence Unions. This in turn will help such organisations support the use of EHR systems.
Implications of data sharing
NHS England and the NDG should consider the legal and ethical ramifications of the data controller's role at Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level, in respect of medical information from patients being passed to insurers, even if it is simply to rule out such a change.
Reassurances to the public
The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should consult on what reassurances may need to be given to the public about its stewardship of their personal data; it should keep in view emerging thinking on the impact of big data on actuarial and underwriting standards and ethics and compliance with the Equalities Act 2010, the Data Protection Act 2018, and relevant ethical guidelines.
Implications of patient access to health data
Building on the discussions that are taking place between the ICO, BMA, RCGP and NDGO, the insurance industry should seek to be involved in, or even sponsor, a wide 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.
Richard Walsh, who led the research for SAMI Consulting, said: "The results within this report show where the benefits of digitalisation can be found.
"For consumers, greater digitalisation could lead to greater trust and claims certainty, as underwriting could benefit from a richer pool of data.
"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.
"Furthermore, the report could also have implications for access to insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions."
Melissa Collett, professional standards director at the CII, said: "Insurers need medical information to assess the risks when offering insurance or when deciding a claim.
"An end to printouts and copies of paper notes in response to requests made by insurers and other permitted third-parties, such as advisers, would speed up the process of arranging a policy or paying a claim.
"A shift to digital records will also save doctors hours of time and cost when producing medical reports."
Toby Bainbridge, head of protection solutions at Royal London, added: "As digitalisation becomes the norm, it is vital that the insurance industry keeps pace with developments in new technology.
"Medical records being available electronically can improve access to protection insurance, increase accuracy and also speed up the application and claims process for consumers. GPs are also likely to benefit from digitalisation, as it could create significant cost and time savings for them.
"But digitalisation also comes with risks and the industry must work with regulators and advisers in a completely transparent way to give consumers the confidence that their data is secure and is used only for the purpose it is intended for."
The funding debate shows no sign of abating
'If we need to know the detail, why not ask the applicant?'
Return to work initiative
A first for the panel