Patients to access records at 35% of practices in the UK

Patients at EMIS practices could soon be able to view their complete medical record online, thanks to a GP-designed system.

Patients can already access their summary care record using NHS Connecting for Health's (CfH) Healthspace system. But now Patient Access to Electronic Records Ltd (PAERS), a company founded by three doctors in 2003, has a programme through which patients can access their own practice medical records online or by mobile phone.

The system allows patients to access records directly, thus avoiding the NHS Spine. It also links to other medical information, to help patients understand their records.

PAERS co-director Dr Brian Fisher said the tool would assist in self-care and improve record accuracy. It can also cut workloads, by allowing patients to access their test results, he said.

'We're aware of people who used it to show their records to doctors abroad before treatment. One older person gave her PIN and passwords to her daughter, so she could care for her from Australia,' he added.

He added that such developments would force GPs to treat patients as 'partners'.

The system hides all free text written before a practice signs up to it, so patients cannot see any non-medical notes made at a time when the GP did not expect patients to read them.

Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director of the Summary Care Record programme at CfH, denied PAERS was more secure because it avoided the NHS Spine. 'There's no audit trail, no alerting, none of the stuff we do,' she said.

At present, only 30 practices are using the new system. But it is theoretically open to the 55 per cent of UK practices that use EMIS.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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