Doctors want greater confidence in electronic patient records before roll out

Forty per cent of doctors believe that the electronic patient record has the opportunity to improve patient care as long as security concerns are addressed, according to a new survey on the medical website onmedica.net.

Patients, though, must be given the chance to opt-out, said doctors responding to the survey. Many practices are now receiving letters from patients requesting that their notes are not uploaded to the NHS spine. The new patient confidentiality website is also providing a standardised letter for patients to fill out and send to their GP in order to opt-out.

The survey asked 400 doctors their views on patients accessing their medical record electronically. There are still those clinicians who believe that this is a step too far, with 20% of doctors stating that they think electronic patient access should not be pursued under any circumstances. But in this survey, 40% of doctors wanted more details about the way the electronic record will work before making a decision.

Dr Luke Koupparis, medical editor of onmedica.net, said: “Electronic patient access will generate a number of challenges both ethical and medicolegal. It is important that these situations are considered carefully and debated prior to launch of the fully electronic patient record. As a healthcare community we should look at all the scenarios which may, in turn, help to allay the fears of clinicians.”

The NHS Connecting for Health programme has already been severely criticised for its enormous costs and the lack of adequate testing. Last autumn, Computer Sciences Corporation was awarded a £2 billion contract to take on the role of overseeing the implementation of Connecting for Health in order that it may meet its targets. However, the IT firms involved have asked for the system to be scaled back in order that it can be delivered on time and within budget. They have also warned patients' health could suffer unless problems were resolved soon.
Meanwhile, as frustration mounts with Government delays, a number of GP surgeries and primary care trusts have opted for independent temporary solutions, further adding to the confusion.

Dr Kamran Abbasi, editor in chief of OnMedica said “Any electronic patient record cannot succeed without winning the confidence of doctors and patients. It is clear from this survey that there is some way to go before doctors are convinced of the wisdom of patients accessing their own records electronically, and many of those concerns centre on the security of the system.

The NHS does not have a happy record of achievement in the health technology arena and doctors will take some convincing.”

End

Notes to editors
OnMedica is a leading provider of information to doctors and other healthcare professionals. It is a trusted electronic gateway for communications to doctors for the benefit of patient care.

Onmedica.net (www.onmedica.net) is a secure password protected site dedicated to providing online educational resources for doctors and other healthcare professionals, and has over 27,000 registered users, who are mostly doctors. Content is provided to users free of charge and includes:

- A range of educational courses and case histories.
- Daily clinical news.
- Support for personal development plans.
- Latest journal abstracts and a two weekly journal round-up.
- Clinical tools for healthcare professionals.
- A range of services specifically designed for the busy clinicians.

For further information please contact:
Mr. Steve Doyle
Marketing Director
OnMedica Group plc
1 Lacemaker Court
London Road
Old Amersham 
Bucks, HP7 0HS
Tel : 01494 735000
e-Mail steve@onmedica.com

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