Only 0.4% of GP patients in England that can access their patient records online have actually done so, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
NHS England announced that 97% of patients are now offered access to medical records online so patients can check their medical history, book appointments and submit repeat prescriptions.
But only four in every 1000 people have accessed their online records, with just 4.5% of patients so far “enabled” to view details on the web. About 55 million people are registered with GPs in England offering the services.
National promotion for these capabilities has been low before now because up until this point many GPs still did not offer access their records. Awareness of the online services are low, as many of these systems have only recently been implemented.
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The NHS has called for innovators to develop new technologies and digital services to improve care for patients and save money for taxpayers.
Integrating healthcare and social care is among the big manifesto pledges the main political parties share in the 2015 general election.
“The next step in the programme is making patients aware of the service.” said Beverley Bryant, director of digital technology for NHS England.
Over the last year the focus has been on making online patient records available, rising to 97% from just 3% in April 2014, so now is the time to promote the opt-in capability to patients, said NHS England.
Although there are no firm plans on how to do this, it will probably be a case of working with practices to help promote the services, but the approach will likely be different for each GP.
“There’s not going to be a one size fits all for the approach.” Bryant said.
National promotional materials already exist in the form of leaflets, posters and digital signage to inform patients about the existence of the capabilities and how to sign up for and access them, which are available online to all GPs.
Earlier this year secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt, spoke of the importance of electronic healthcare records in scaling the NHS to support the growing population, and has offered funding over the last year to practices which have experimented with new technologies.
The implementation of electronic records is also part of Hunt’s controversial promise to ensure the NHS is paperless by 2018.