The union for health and care managers

Home  >  News & Campaigns  >  News Articles  >  News: MiP backs WhatsApp for health
Thursday 30 November 2017

MiP backs “WhatsApp for health” as staff face cyber security crackdown

By MiP

Hospify chief executive James Flint: app 'massively reduces the risk for security breaches or legal liabilities of any kind'.

MiP and UNISON are supporting trials of a new secure messaging app for NHS staff, amid concerns that staff using WhatsApp and other commercial social networks could be in breach of data protection and patient confidentiality rules.

Many NHS staff have turned to using WhatsApp or Facebook to communicate with colleagues out of frustration with inefficient and unreliable NHS systems. But the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), due to come into force in May 2018, means staff using these apps to send information about patients will automatically be reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), exposing their trusts to fines of up to 4% of turnover.

MiP understands that the General Medical Council is already investigating around 30 cases of doctors' use of WhatApp, FaceBook and Twitter, even before the new regulations come into force.

New app being trialled

The new app, called Hospify, offers a WhatsApp-style user experience but is fully compliant with new and existing data and confidentiality regulations. MiP and Unison began trialling Hospify in September, and and one trust is now set to begin a 100-user trial with a view to offering the app to all 2,000 staff.

"People think that WhatsApp is safe to use because WhatsApp is encrypted, but encryption is only part of the story," said Hospify chief executive James Flint. "All WhatsApp messages are stored on WhatsApp's servers, most of which are outside Europe, which is itself is a breach of the new EU rules – which will still apply in the UK regardless of Brexit."

Patient confidentiality

WhatsApp also fails to comply with existing confidentiality rules which give patients the right to view information held about them at any time, since WhatApp's end-to-end encryption means not even the company itself can read the messages stored on its servers.

Hospify encrypts and delivers text messages from phone to phone, then deletes them from its servers within 72 hours, so the only copies are held within users' phones. Messages are automatically deleted from staff phones after 90 days.

"This design massively reduces the risk for security breaches or legal liabilities of any kind," adds Flint. "Messages remain the legal responsibility of the individuals in the conversation or their employers – which is how it should be."

Trial versions of Hospify are free to download from the Apple Store or Google Play. For more information visit the Hospify website.

If you enjoyed this article, please sign up to receive our free monthly emails - and we’ll keep you up to date on news and events in health and care management

Jon Restellsmall

Welcome to our new website. And whilst we’re at it, welcome to Managers in Partnership’s new way of approaching communications.

04 October 2018 | By Jon Restell
Sharp End_2018-04-18_Outsourcing_Cartoon

The Carillion collapse shows the perils of driving suppliers to the brink...

18 April 2018 | By Anonymous
The Sharp End

Here's what you need to know about the legal position on using social media at work, focusing on human rights, contract law and data protection.

29 September 2017 | By Jo Seery
Legal Eye
Feature_2017-03-10_Shared Services_Cartoon

What are the lessons for the NHS from the troubled history of shared services in the public sector?

10 March 2017 | By Matt Ross
MBC_2016-09-03_Wales Training_Trainees

We spoke the managers who have transformed staff training across NHS Wales, cutting costs, raising quality and boosting compliance.

03 September 2016 | By Matt Ross
Surveillance camera

Our legal advisers on what you need to know about employee surveillance and social media snooping.

22 June 2016 | By Brian Wilson
Legal Eye
Analysis_2016-03-03_Public value_Graphic

Healthcare management should be about more than meeting targets and cutting costs. Managers need to deliver services that strengthen their communities.

03 March 2016 | By Alan Turrell
Analysis & opinion
Find us
FDA MiP section, 6th floor, Elizabeth House, 39 York Road, London, SE1 7NQ
Copyright © 2018 MiP