Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative Party conference on 9 October 2012 that he wants patients to be able to access medical records online and book appointments and prescriptions from home computers.

Dr Mike Robinson, medical director of INPS, one of the major providers of software used by doctors practices, commented: “The technology already exists and a growing number of patients are already making appointments, requesting repeat prescriptions and interacting with their GP practice from home, and even to do it from apps on their mobile phones. But it needs Government action to address the issues, not just words to make this happen more widely.”

“At INPS we have seen how the increased use of computer technology can free up GP resources as well as give a better service to patients. But there are issues that need to be resolved. For example, patient records in particular are complex documents, filled with abbreviations and language that is not designed to be read by non-specialists, and there are concerns that GPs could actually have to spend substantial amounts of time explaining the content of records with patients who do not understand them.”



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One Response to Health Secretary wants patients to be able to access medical records online

  1. J Massie

    As a patient’s mother it took 5 months to access my son’s medical records when I had concerns about the information recorded.

    In the end we received an incomplete file with amended records from the hospital. We ended up seeking out medical records held by our GP to try to gain some insight.

    We found differences between hospital and GP records, i.e. a simple data inputting error after we moved to a new surgery meant my son’s GP records showed our son did not have his first immunisations, only identified when I looked at my son’s GP medical records when the hospital stalled. If I had never checked his file it would never have come to light.

    There is also the discussion I had with my GP about maybe seeing a chinese herbalist for my son and even though my GP disuaded me from pursuing htis action my son’s medical notes state he has had chinese herbalism.

    We have discovered that errors in medical records are frequent (doctors are working within tight time constraints) and getting them amended requires a doctor to be willing to have it amended – but always retrospectively which means adequate signposting is then required so that the correction isn’t missed in future.

    As patients or their carers, we may not understand a lot of the abbreviations or language but we can usually spot some simple errors on our medical records that can only be identified by knowing the history of the patient (and most of us can use medical dictionaries if we need to understand an abbreviation or language).

    As part of our experience we have also found the communication between consultants and GPs is not robust and the drug prescribing history is not always available in the GP notes, and consultants do not always record the information you provide during clinics to state a drug is not being taken.

    As for allergy information our experience is that a few consultant’s either don’t have robust enough systems in place or don’t ensure a proper medical history is understood by reading the medical notes before prescribing medication that your child is allergic too.

    After battling with some doctors/hospital for most of this year I am left thinking that no wonder mistakes happen because the record keeping and information sharing is simply not robust enough. Anything that can improve it is preferable to the risks patients are currently being opened up to. It is more likely that what will increase is the time required to improve the records already held.

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