A pilot study at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital shows how a private cloud could be used to share confidential patient data with consultants and GPs.
The project has been in development for 18 months and is now ready to be tested. Cloud integration work was provided free by Flexiant, a cloud service provider.
Data sharing is a big challenge for the NHS, according to Bill Buchanan, a professor at Edinburgh Napier University. He said: "Our system allows for data to be stored with its context, such as where it was captured, and then used in whatever way is necessary through well-managed clinical services."
Traditionally, SQL databases would store NHS clinical data. Buchanan said: "You have different databases in different hospitals and different standards." The system being used at Chelsea and Westminster uses service oriented architecture. This provides a set of services that can be accessed from any web browser. Data cannot be accessed directly. Patient data is only available through the services
"We take the core data and provide clinical services to mobile phone like the iPhone and Android and web browsers."
Tony Lucas, founder of Flexiant, explains: "Hosting the data in the cloud as soon as results are published means that the patient can go online and access them, sharing them in real time with everyone who needs to see them.
"They will be able to invite their GP, consultants, health carers and family members to see the data, people they trust and who need to know the results. This has massive implications for the future of patient treatment in the UK. For the first time, patients can have control over their treatment and their records and that is enormously empowering."