Should the GPC be supporting access or making it more difficult?

Pulse, the UK’s leading weekly publication for UK GP’s, reports on the GPC’s warning to government on their plans to give patients online access to their full GP record by 2015 as part of its ‘Information Revolution’:

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘There are concerns about when the data goes to patients, they will read things that may concern them and that will lead to additional work for the practice.’ ‘It’s quite different for the patient to be sitting in their room looking at their record with the doctor, and the doctor can say “this means so and so”, to a patient sitting at home looking at their own record downloading it and wondering what on earth it all means.’

Dr Buckman said the GPC also had concerns over security, and patients being ‘coerced to share records with family, employers, insurance companies, and other people’

Of course these are very valid issues but whilst there will always be challenges with the patients permission none of this is completely new and it’s not exactly a mission to Mars. As Dr Brian Fisher points out in the comments:

I am Dr Brian Fisher, co-director of PAERS Ltd, the system that makes it possible for all EMIS practices to offer their patients online access to their GP record.

Dr Buckman and the committee’s observations fly in the face of experience and evidence. Patients say that they understand 75% of the record. Read codes in the record are automatically linked to the relevant patient information leaflets from an authoritative source, so that people can understand better what they read. Practices do not report an increase in anxious patients. On the contrary, recent unpublished data suggest that appointments and telephone calls will be saved.

The system can be set up to exclude free text if the practice wishes. This protects the practice almost completely from inappropriate third party data being seen.

Evidence from around the world shows that record sharing is safe when used in a sensible way. In fact, it enhances safety by enabling better shared decision-making, compliance, continuity of data and a patient who understands their management better. Huge benefits for all.

The GPC should be supporting access not making it more difficult

Check out this 2008 interview with Dr Fisher on the PatientsKnowBest blog

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