Promoting patient records access could help cut GP workload

19 Sep 2014

An online YouGov poll[i] has revealed that many people don’t know they can access their GP medical record online, but believe it could help them manage their own health better and ease pressure on their GP.

The findings are supported by the experience of an Oxfordshire GP, who says online record access can help cut consultation times.

The YouGov results are revealed as GPs prepare to meet the requirements of the GMS Contract to offer and promote online transactional and record viewing services to their patients by 2015, if their GP system offers it.

71% of people surveyed did not realise the technology exists to let them access their GP record online or via a smartphone, would like to use it, or thought it would help them - or others with long-term health conditions - to manage their health better.

Patient Access allows patients at EMIS practices to use online services and view their electronic medical record.

Dr Judith Wright from Cropredy Surgery in Oxfordshire, says online record access for patients is easing workload at the practice. Dr Wright said: “Around 250 of our patients currently use Patient Access to view their records. We thought it might result in more patient queries but in fact the opposite is true. It can help to cut consultation times. For example a patient using the service was able to check her test results, which meant that we were able to focus entirely on discussing treatment with her.

“We will increase our promotion of the Patient Access medical record viewer to benefit both our patients and the practice now that the system is more patient-friendly.”

Some GPs have previously expressed concern that a number of patients may worry unnecessarily if given access to “too much” information. But this is now being addressed with patient-tailored settings that the practice can control.

Ben Foster, Operations Director of Patient Services at EMIS, said: “Previously, if a practice ‘turned on’ its Patient Access medical record viewer, it gave access to everything. Now a practice can choose which modules - for example a summary, test results, allergies, letters, medications or immunisations - patients can view.

“Not only that, the settings can be tailored to individual patients or specific patient groups, for example those with certain medical conditions. Practices can choose to hide sensitive information, or only show letters or free text within specific dates, according to the patient’s specific needs.

“The YouGov poll reveals an appetite from patients to access and use their medical record to manage their health more effectively – the evolved Patient Access system can help GPs deliver this in a safe, controlled way, while addressing the profession’s very real concern about safeguarding vulnerable patients’ information.”

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[i] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2343 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th - 27th June 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).