SCR benefits not as great as expected, BMJ study says

The benefits of the Summary Care Record (SCR) scheme have not been as great as expected, according to a BMJ study.

Dr Buckman: voiced concerns about SCR rollout
Dr Buckman: voiced concerns about SCR rollout

The study, which evaluated the scheme between 2007 and 2010, revealed that SCR use did not lead to shorter consultations, nor did it appear to reduce hospital admission - benefits which were anticipated by policymakers.

It also showed that creating SCRs was a complex, technically challenging and labour-intensive process, which occurred much more slowly than originally planned.

The findings come as the new coalition government announces a review of the scheme , as reported by GP newspaper.

When accessed, SCRs seemed to support better quality care and increase clinician confidence in some encounters, the study showed. But, it outlined there was no direct evidence of improved safety.  

The report concluded: ‘This evaluation has shown that some progress has been made in introducing shared electronic summary records in England and that some benefits have occurred.

‘However, significant social and technical barriers to the widespread adoption and use of such records remain and their benefits to date appear more subtle and contingent than early policy documents predicted.'

Commenting on the research, GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman, said: 'While the BMA does not oppose shared electronic patient records in principle, we have long voiced concerns about the way this programme has been implemented. It should not have been rolled out ahead of the findings of this evaluation - which uncovers some very serious issues - being published.

'We are pleased that the programme is now to be reviewed. The BMA is happy to engage with the government to try to find a way forward that has the confidence of both patients and professionals.'

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