The channels by which patients can set their national data opt-out preference are described briefly below. This provides the context for assessing the potential impacts/barriers of accessing the service for certain groups.
Patients can access the national data opt-out service online, using a smartphone, tablet or personal computer. In order to ensure verification of identity, the online system requires that the patient has a mobile phone or email address that is registered on PDS. The patient is asked to input their name, date of birth, and either their NHS number or postcode to verify their identity and the patient is sent an authentication “one-time passcode” via their mobile phone or email
Patients who cannot, or do not want to, opt-out using an online service can use a digitally-assisted route by calling the national contact centre. Through this route, they may be supported to use the online system above or may have an opt-out set for them by the contact centre staff. In both cases they are still required to verify their identity and authenticate via a one-time passcode to a PDS-registered mobile or email
A non-digital route is also available, where patients can set an opt-out through a paper-based process via the national contact centre. This enables patients who have neither a mobile phone nor an email address to register their preference. Patients submit a form with information including their NHS number to the national contact centre. If they are unable to provide an NHS number, patients can submit copies of documents confirming their name and address in order to verify their identity. The non-digital route also provides a route for formal proxies, including those with parental responsibility for a child under the age of 13, to register an opt-out on behalf of another person(s).
Testing has commenced on an NHS App which will also allow the setting of national data opt-outs. Users of the app will need to undergo identify verification in order to set up an “NHS Login”: this includes submitting a copy of a photo identity document, such as a driving licence, along with their name, postcode and date of birth. They’ll also be asked to submit a short video of themselves. Once the information has been checked, then the NHS Login will enable access to a range of healthcare apps and websites, including the NHS App for the national data opt-out. Once set up and logged into the NHS App there are no additional checks needed for registering or changing their national data opt-out preference. The NHS App is due to be launched early in 2019.