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Patients to access full GP medical records online by 2016

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised full online access to medical records, a review of data security standards and a new opt-out model for

All patients will be able to access their full GP medical records online within a year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

Speaking at the NHS Innovation Expo, he said: "By 2016 every patient can access their whole medical record online."

Hunt added that by 2018 the record will include all information from across all health and care providers, and will include read and write access.

While 54% of people in England use smartphones, only 2% currently interact digitally with the NHS – but Hunt promised that within the next financial year, a quarter of smartphone users will be able to access NHS services and medical records, book appointments, and arrange repeat prescriptions using a suite of health apps.

"It goes back to this relationship between doctors and patients. When patients start accessing their medical records, they start thinking about their healthcare in a different way," he said.

"I also want patients not just to be able to read their medical record on their smartphone but to add to it, whether by recording their own comments or by plugging in their own wearable devices to it."

Alluding to the controversial programme, which caused uproar after concerns around the sharing of patient data by extracting it from GP records and putting it onto a central database held by the Health & Social Care Information Centre, Hunt said the NHS needs to regain the public's trust around the security of their medical data.

To ensure that personal data is protected, Fiona Caldicott's position as national data guardian for health and care will be strengthened by putting her role in a statutory footing of the same calibre as the chief inspector of hospitals.

Hunt has also asked the Care Quality Commission to undertake a review of the standards of data security across the NHS by January 2016.

Caldicott will be contributing to the review through developing new guidelines for the protection of personal data against which every NHS organisation will be held to account. The implementation of the recommendations from the review will begin in April 2016. She will also provide guidance on how to word a new model of consent and opt-outs to be used by

"Nothing matters more to us than our health, and people rightly say we must be able to assure the security of confidential medical information. We have to win the public's trust," Hunt said.

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It’s exciting to see that the UK government is dedicated to driving digital uptake in the NHS with these latest announcements. Making it possible for patients to access their medical records online and via mobile devices, using wearable technology to capture data and doctors making more accurate assessments based on this information are just a few examples of how innovation is making a positive impact in the healthcare sector.

However, it will be important to remember that at the core of this will be data, passing across both external and internal channels between patients and doctors. Given the nature of this information, healthcare organisations need to make sure that the data collected stays confidential and access is managed properly. Healthcare firms should look to a Network Access Control (NAC) solution and Role Based Provisioning (RBP) to manage the flow of data on their internal networks and ensure that users only get access to the data they need.

Network bandwidth is another important consideration. With thousands of users trying to access the internal network at any one time to view patients’ information it will be important to prepare for a far larger traffic load. - Bob Zemke, Extreme Networks
In my opinion the opt out should be the default. Don't open my records unless I ask for them. I can see insurance companies possibly looking to get their hands on this data to find high risk people that they may be providing life insurance for..