NHS patients should have easy access to their medical records through an online database interface, according to the GP who took over Harold Shipman's practice near Manchester.
Amir Hannan, a GP in Hyde, told a recent BCS Health Informatics Specialist Group meeting, "A patient's medical record performs a vital role in his or her ongoing care. Patients can not feel confident they will be safely treated unless they are confident the information in their record is correct."
Amir Hannan took over the practice in Hyde where Harold Shipman had killed patients with opiate overdoses. Shipman had falsified medical records to cover his tracks and Dr Hannan tried to restore patients' confidence by offering them complete access to their records.
This was done first by CD and later online. The online project is a collaboration between: EMIS, an IT supplier to GP surgeries; Patient Access Electronic Record System (PAERS), a company that provides GP surgeries with touchscreen database interfaces for patients; GPs; and patients. The system is generic, and could work with any GP system.
Access is password-protected, but there are plans for two-factor authentication in the near future. The patient normally controls access, but there are guidelines where the patient's competence is in doubt.
Features include allowing patients to make bookings from a large number of possible appointments and requesting repeat prescriptions.
The system links from a list of a patients' prescriptions to an approved website with information about each prescription and other related websites. The record shows allergies, current medication, clinical problems, family health history and summaries of all recent consultations.
The service was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by participating patients, Hannan told the BCS.
He said the system can help foster a partnership of trust between patient and doctor, improve patients' health literacy and help them take ownership of their illness.
This was first published in April 2008