GP records to be accessed online by next year, Hunt vows

3 Sep 15

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has set a target for all patients to able to access their GP records online within a year as part of a further expansion of the use of technology in the NHS.

In a speech to the NHS Innovation Expo yesterday, Hunt said the NHS needed to make better use of technology so that patients can manage their own healthcare needs.

By 2016 all patients should be able to access their own GP electronic record online in full, seeing not just a summary of their allergies and medication but blood test results, appointment records and medical histories, he said. By 2018 this record should be expanded to include information from all their health and care interactions.

Such changes were needed to reflect the wider impact of digital technologies in how people interact with services, the health secretary told delegates.

“To most of us it feels like there has been more change in the way we book taxis, shop, bank or store photos than the way we access healthcare,” he said.

“Yet for every single one of us healthcare is more important than all of those things.

“Experience from other countries suggests that opening up access to your own medical record leads to a profound change in culture in a way that is transformative for people with complex or long-term conditions.”

Hunt also set a target for a quarter of smartphone users – who account for around 15% of all NHS patients – to be routinely accessing NHS advice and services through apps by the end of the next financial year.

“As the internet drives forward the next wave of innovation, all over the world healthcare still seems to be at the back of the queue. We no longer have to carry round our cheque books or boarding passes, and we shouldn’t accept any less when it comes to our health.

“I also want patients not just to be able to read their medical record on their smartphone but to add to it, whether by recording their own comments or by plugging in their own wearable devices to it.”

However, he acknowledged that such a shift also required the public to be reassured that their personal medical data was being held securely. This was an area where the NHS had not yet won the people’s trust, he added.

“Nothing matters more to us than our health, and people rightly say we must be able to assure the security of confidential medical information.”

To ensure data is being kept securely, Hunt announced a review of data standards would be undertaken by the Care Quality Commission by next January.

The independent national data guardian for health and care, Dame Fiona Caldicott, will contribute to this by developing clear guidelines for the protection of personal data. These standards then assessed through inspections.

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