These are not really meant for anybody to answer. I mean, you’re welcome to if you feel the urge (but please don’t try doing so in a comment!), but just some things I’ve been mulling over as a result of an unsatisfactory conversation I had with my doctor’s surgery yesterday.
I am overdue an annual blood test. With the virus, everything has slipped. My wife, who is a nurse at the surgery, offered to take my blood this week, she’d bring the gear home. Initially, I was on for this, but this conversation made me stop and think.
I use my surgery’s portal to order meds each month – the point here is that, security-wise, it is considered safe enough to allow me to log on and order meds, it is happy that I am bona-fide. I notice, on the portal, there is a page for test results. If I click on that page, I get a message that “test results are not enabled on this account”. and that I should contact the surgery to set it up. Fair enough.
Now, I already talked to my wife. I mean, it is somebody else’s job to put the details onto the system, but her gut feel is that our surgery does not make use of this “test result” functionality.
So, playing ignorant, I contacted the surgery. I asked whether it was possible to set me up. My wife was correct in that this was certainly very unusual, and the guy I spoke to had no clue either, but said he’d find out.
In the end, he advised me that it could happen. But… if I wanted to view the results online, I would have to ask the doctor’s permission.
Permission? This made me stop and think. I have a blood test. My blood. The NHS then processes the blood and comes out with a set of numbers. Who then owns those numbers? While the NHS applies the processing, the numbers will be unique to me, in fact, without me, there would be no numbers. So my gut feel is that those numbers belong mostly to me. And, if so, why do I need anybody’s permission to see them? Put another way, what right does a doctor have to deny somebody that permission?
Now, I have to be careful how I go along this route. They could turn around and say, “okay, if you do not have the test, then we cannot safely prescribe any further meds”, and so my supply will dry up. And the conclusion will be that sooner or later, I will have another stroke. So, I need to think about this some.
But it’s an interesting question*. Not one we often think about, but when we have a test (blood or otherwise), who actually owns the results? In some ways, here, a more commercially-oriented system would be better, because the lines are not so blurry. But even in some place like the US, who actually owns the data there? The patient? Or, the insurance company?
And it goes along the same lines as one I thought about as a result of COVID, when people in various places were unable to see their loved-ones bodies after death – who actually owns our body?
I’ve told my wife I’ll hold fire on the test for the moment, I need to puzzle this one out. But I have to say, the more I learn about the NHS, the less I like about it.
* – interesting to a geek like me