In most areas of life we expect to understand the things that are known about us – if we need to know how much money we have in the bank, we check our bank account, if we want to know about what we will be doing in the future, we check our diary, if we want to know about our own health we …???
Traditionally we have tended to accept that ‘doctor knows best’ and that we do not need to know all the details of our own health. Why is this? These are details that intricately concern us, and will affect our future lives.
One possibility is, that since we do not pay directly for the health service, we do not require to see the output of this service. But we all pay, through our taxes. We are paying the doctors to doctor us, and we deserve to see what they come up with!
Slowly the situation is changing. At Haughton Thornley Medical Centres, patients can already access their medical record online, using EMIS Access. TPP are currently piloting a similar online access using SystmOnline.
It will be interesting to see what changes are made by introducing patient access to records. The dynamic between patient and doctor may change, empowering the patient, and helping them to feel more responsible for their own health. Patients may even be able to contribute by noticing any errors in their records, or by taking the initiative for dealing with lifestyle health problems.
The sharing of health records online may also benefit the patient, by allowing fewer trips to be made to the GP surgery – if we can check our test results online, we do not have to go back to the GP to get them explained to us, if we can measure our own blood pressure and enter the results into our record, we will not have to visit for a blood pressure test. This would be a major advantage to those in employment, who do not have time for multiple GP visits.
One word of caution – it is important that patients are able to understand what they see on their medical record, and are not confused by trying to decipher terms using the internet. Ideas such as links to more information from the record, perhaps through NHS Choices, may be necessary to allow us to make the most of what our records tell us.