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19-09-2012 | General practice | Article

Electronic records progress ‘slow’


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medwireNews: The think tank 2020Health has called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to speed up the government's initiative to give patients access to electronic Personal Health Records.

It says that currently less than 1% of GP practices give patients access to electronic health records and that the Department of Health will struggle to meet even its own modest projected uptake rate of 5% by 2015, unless there are major cultural and infrastructure changes.

Based on responses of over 250 patients to face-to-face and online surveys, a 2020Health report claims that giving patients access to their health records can improve outcomes and lower service costs. But it says that public perception is a key barrier to uptake, with people remaining sceptical about the government holding their records online.

Author John Cruickshank said: "People use the internet for banking, learning, business and more besides. Management of healthcare online must be next. What we need is a cultural change: patients need to move from being passive recipients of care to being much more involved in its planning and management."

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) has meanwhile highlighted concerns over patient confidentiality with electronic health records this week. The medical indemnity group has urged doctors to be cautious when using digital devices to access patient records on the go.

MPS Head of Medical Services Dr Nick Clements said: "The ability for doctors to upload patient notes and add to their record via a tablet device has obvious benefits; however doctors using such tools need to remember that all the normal rules of confidentiality apply."

Key issues according to the MPS include poor security, with no or insufficient passwords and lack of encryption, overlapping work and family use of digital devices, visibility of screens used in public places and loss or theft of devices.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price