The main challenge to achieving the sharing of accurate, protected yet accessible patient medical information by 2005 is not technical, but cultural, institutional, managerial and political, according to draft recommendations from IT parliamentary group Eurim.
The document on medical records issued last week also identified a number of problems the NHS has to overcome if it is to achieve one of the key objectives in its £5bn investment programme.
These include ensuring the quality of data input in an environment which has seen input error rates of 10% to 30% and moving to direct data entry by healthcare professionals without increasing their workload. The draft is also concerned about aligning coding structures used in different disciplines of the medical profession.
"One of the main challenges is to provide trusted policy frameworks that reconcile the need to share information with pressures to protect that information from abuse," it says. It also calls for the common use of systems and the sharing of information that can be easily interpreted by patients.
Hitting the 2005 deadline
Accurate patient information to be available in the right format for the right patient at the right place and time
The sharing of patients' medical records between healthcare professionals in hospitals and those in general practice
Protection of records, with access controlled with patient consent and recorded by audit trail
Good practice codes to replace barriers to sharing data.