Managing your information sharing

Gurpreet Sarai,
Engagement Manager,
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

The final blog of the week and I know it sounds like a basic suggestion, but I would always suggest that it is good to speak to your manager about any information sharing issues you have.

When you realise there is a problem, it’s important to be transparent about it early on, particularly with your manager whilst there is an opportunity to do something about it. This can sometimes seem like a difficult thing to do, but when done in the right way, it not only helps to build confidence in your ability and strengthen the relationship with your manager, but more importantly it can help to reduce the risk of harm through the misuse of peoples’ information.

Having the support of your manager, or alternatively someone in a position of influence that will understand the issue from your perspective, is an important part of being empowered to manage an information sharing issue. And let’s be clear, there’s no shame in putting your hand up and asking for help. It demonstrates your commitment to resolving the issue and shows your aptitude in recognising it in the first place.

Speaking to someone who understands the issue and who is also potentially exposed to wider knowledge that you may not necessarily be aware of, is a great support and can make the challenge of resolving the issue seem much more manageable.

In our experience, the information sharing issue is often highlighted when the information specialist involved has been introduced into the programme at a later stage, and then has the difficult task of firefighting legislation to find the appropriate gateway (if there is one) that will allow information to be shared appropriately. Often with so many key players in the mix, finding a voice to say what can be perceived as the unthinkable is difficult enough, so it never hurts to have someone there to advocate your position and help to get your concerns across, whilst also explaining the most ideal approach from your perspective.

Here a few simple steps on how to bring up an information sharing issue with your manager:

  1. Before you approach your manager, it is a good idea to have all the facts and where possible, a proposed solution. This shows your ability to manage the situation and your willingness to take responsibility for the outcome.
  2. When speaking to your manager, describe the problem and demonstrate the impact that the information sharing issue has on firstly your programme or project, and secondly where relevant, the organisation.
  3. Explain the proposed solution, and alternatives where possible, to provide your manager with all the potential options. In addition, you should also explain the implications of each.
  4. Demonstrate your commitment to resolving the issue, agree the best approach and work with your manager to come up with a plan of action.
  5. Keep your manager informed with progress and take reasonable steps to adapt the plan along the way if required.

Having worked with several local places to manage their information sharing challenges, we understand this is sometimes easier said than done. That’s why we thought it would be helpful to provide an anecdotal scenario (based on a real-life example) of when speaking to your manager can help to resolve the information sharing issue:

You have been notified about a project that your organisation is part of involving data sharing with several other organisations, including social care, voluntary sector and other health bodies.

The aim of this project is to create a summary health and social care record, reducing organisational boundaries and delivering the care needed in a local population.

The project is in the advanced stages and the Director of Transformation is speaking to an IT company about introducing a technical solution. You have been asked to advise the project on the information governance requirements.

As an information specialist, it is important to establish the required data flows to understand why and how information will be shared (for example by using the Privacy Impact Assessment tool), and using this to navigate the appropriate legislative gateway to enable information to be shared if deemed appropriate.

You need to get the Director of Transformation to hold back on making any further commitments until you have had the opportunity to do this. By following the steps outlined above, you can gain support from your manager and together, formulate a plan for speaking to the Director.

You present the approach required to enable information to be shared in the most effective way and in the process, ensure that the risk of harm to individuals through the misuse of their personal information is reduced.

If you’ve missed any of the blogs from the week you can find a full list on our blogs page and if you’d like to be kept up-to-date with all things information sharing why not sign up to our free email updates?

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