Quarter of patients want power to delete medical records

GPs fear online access to medical data will put records at risk and drive up unrealistic demand from patients for rapid services, a poll shows.

Dr Stephanie Bown: avoid inflating public expectations
Dr Stephanie Bown: avoid inflating public expectations

The poll found 25% of patients believe they should be able to ask for their entire medical record to be deleted, and 40% say they should be able to amend records without doctors’ approval.

The poll, by the Medical Protection Society (MPS), revealed stark differences between doctors and patients over access to records. It found that 87% of doctors fear online access to records will fuel unrealistic demand for speedy help.

The findings come as GP leaders prepare to debate a series of motions at this month’s UK LMCs conference warning of the impact of rising patient expectations.

One motion warns that ‘current patient demand and expectation coupled with the proposed reduction in funding has left NHS general practice teetering on the brink of collapse’.

MPS policy director Dr Stephanie Bown said: ‘There needs to be careful efforts to avoid inflating public expectations beyond what can realistically be delivered and creating public disenchantment with what will be a valuable innovation.

‘A more collaborative approach, listening to the concerns of both doctor and patient, could realign patient expectations with the complicated reality of delivering modern healthcare.’

The poll exposed gaps between patients’ and doctors’ views of realistic levels of support. Just over half (52%) of patients believe doctors should be expected to respond within a day to emails for ‘routine support’, but just 14% of doctors agree.

There is also a sharp divide on whether patients should be allowed to amend their records online. A total of 40% of patients believe they should be able to make changes whether or not their doctor approves, compared with just 7.5% of doctors.

Doctors have also warned of the workload implications of being expected to write records in simpler language to enable patients to understand them without help.

Three quarters of patients believe records should be written in simple language, avoiding medical jargon and terminology.

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