We mustn’t repeat the mistakes of the past: simply focus on electronic Personal Health Records

Release time: 00.01hrs Weds 16th 2013


Responding to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt’s announcement that he wants the NHS to be paperless by 2018, Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health said:

“Jeremy is right that it’s crazy that we don’t have electronic access to our health records. We are all used to online banking, shopping and social media and healthcare has lagged far behind.

“It is vital however that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the National IT programme and try to do too much at once, with people not understanding the benefits or having confidence in the system. The focus must be on electronic Personal Health Records (PHR), over which patients have control and which they (or a nominated person) share with professionals. The NHS and social care need to ensure our GP, hospital, dental, social care etc records can be viewed by patients through a PHR platform and that they can interact with professionals through this. A system which allows professionals to share information without the patient’s knowledge is no longer acceptable. A paperless system will flow from this, but this must be the focus.”

2020health has for years been a vocal advocate of patients having online access to all their medical and social care records, most recently in their September 2012 report “Personal Healthcare Records: Patients in control?”

Currently, the Department for Health has projected an uptake rate of 5 per cent by 2015 for GP records online, and the 2020health report suggested that significant work is needed in terms of infrastructure and cultural changes to reach even this modest goal.

Julia Manning added:

“The barriers to uptake surround culture and change more than technology. There are many reports of GPs not wanting patients to access their records. We’ve had the right to see our records for 20 years but professionals still write unintelligibly and resist requests to view them.

This attitude has to change – healthcare is unsustainable if patients aren’t empowered with the information to partner in their healthcare. While security appears to be a concern for those not using the technology, it becomes much less so for those who do use it. The evidence points towards an increase in patient knowledge, communication and satisfaction. This will produce the savings – by reducing demand, enabling self-care and improving efficiency.”


About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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