Citizens call for electronic GP medical records

The majority of UK citizens want an electronic record of their GP medical data to be accessible by healthcare professionals

The majority of UK citizens want an electronic record of their GP medical data to be accessible by healthcare professionals.

Research from YouGov found that 85% of the British public would want healthcare professionals treating them to have access to GP data via a secure electronic database.

Over half of UK citizens were unaware that hospital doctors cannot usually access information from a patient’s GP medical records, meaning that most have to provide treatment without it, or phone up to ask for information to be faxed to the hospital.

Meanwhile, 30% of the 2,343 adults surveyed were shocked that it isn’t commonplace for patient information to be shared electronically.

The poll for Emis Group concluded that most citizens think an accessible electronic medical record (EMR) would improve patient care (77%), reduce avoidable treatment errors (69%) and save patients the frustration of having to repeat medical information (67%).

Chris Spencer, CEO of healthcare information specialist Emis, said the reality of implementing a shared medical record at the point of care is complicated.

“Despite efforts to increase use of the Summary Care Records and wider initiatives by forward-thinking system suppliers and local healthcare providers, data-sharing between clinicians is far from routine," he said.

“It’s little wonder that people are worried about this – especially when proven systems exist to securely and successfully share patient records.”

Some 61% of people are also concerned that failing to share important information with A&E doctors could result in treatment delays or potentially life-threatening medical errors.

“Patients clearly want their records to be shared more effectively between medical professionals treating them," Spencer added. "The technology exists to make this happen. Those of us operating across the healthcare landscape have a responsibility to make sure it does.”

Summary Care Records are electronic patient records and were originally part of the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT). However, the records were one of the most widely disputed aspects of the £12bn programme, with critics highlighting the privacy and security issues of allowing widespread access to patients' medical history.

In 2010, the Department of Health reviewed the Summary Care Records programme and concluded that it was a valuable tool and would go ahead, but with a restricted amount of information and on an opt-out basis.

Like, the idea of creating a database with accessible patient information caused a furore, with London GPs taking collective action to make it easier for their patients to opt out of the system and councils warning about the lack of IT security.

Last month, eHealth Insider reported that Summary Care Records had hit the 40 million patient mark in the NHS.

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