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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee

 
 

Press Release Fewer than one per cent of GP surgeries provide online access to health records

Just one in 100 NHS practices are providing patients with electronic health records, despite evidence showing that patients who take up the service secure better health outcomes.

The independent think-tank, 2020Health, has been conducting research into the take up of Personal Health Records, which allow patients to add and organise personal health information and access records as and when they need to. Online research combined with face-to-face interviews has revealed a striking disconnect between the perception of electronic records and the reality, with those who have adopted the service having far fewer security concerns than those patients who do not use it.

Julia Manning, Chief Executive of 2020Health, says:

“The barriers to uptake surround culture and change more than technology. While security appears to be a concern for those not using the technology, it becomes much less so for those who do use it.

“Our work generally confirmed that where already provided, electronic access facilities are well liked by patients. The evidence points towards an increase in patient knowledge, communication and satisfaction.”

The forthcoming report identifies several key areas in which electronic access to records are particularly valuable to patients, including appointment booking and ordering repeat prescriptions. However, any move towards electronic patient records becoming the norm will require significant behavioural change, with doctors enabling access and patients becoming more involved and informed as equal partners in their care.

According to the report’s surveys over half of those polled said they already used the internet to assist in monitoring their health, and doctors are increasingly experiencing patients arriving for an appointment having already searched their symptoms on the internet.

John Cruickshank who authored the report said:

“More and people rely on the internet for business, banking, shopping and learning, so it shouldn’t be too much of a step change to move towards personalised health Apps and online patient record management.

“The benefits of electronic records access are most palpable to those living with chronic conditions or disability, whose care accounts for 70 per cent of all NHS spending.

“What’s most important here is that in order for such a system to work, a major change in culture and attitude is required. Patients need to move from being passive recipients of care to being much more involved in its planning and management. The evidence increasingly suggests that patients who engage in this way enjoy far better health outcomes.”

Currently, the Department for Health has projected an uptake rate of 5 per cent by 2015, yet the report suggests that significant work is needed in terms of infrastructure and cultural changes to reach even this modest goal.

Public perception is an area which needs more work and the report identifies the concerns of patients at present, with one woman in her 40s fearing that online health management might be an excuse for doctors to do less work. However, another woman of a similar age noted the obvious benefits, telling the report authors that “If you had an accident in Wales or something, they would take those electronic records so they’d know how to treat you – to see what you were allergic or medication that you are already on.”

ENDS

Note to Editors

1. For interviews, comment or further information please contact John Cruickshank on 020 3170 7702 or Christian May on 020 3008 8147

2. 2020health.org is an independent, grass-roots, Think Tank passionate about creating a healthy society. We identify issues and bring informed people together to create these solutions. Please visit www.2020health.org for more information and full publications.

3. The full report will be released on September 18th 2012. The report was sponsored by an unrestricted educational grant from Microsoft. The views expressed in the report are those of the authors.