The benefits and Challenges of Records Access and Understanding
GP/Healthcare The patient has an active role in their own healthcare and develops a good relationship with their GP and Practice. This is being backed up with the ‘Choose-and-book’ option where the patient can choose which hospital they would like to be referred.
Repeat Prescriptions These can be ordered via the internet whether you take advantage of the access to records or not. You must also register for this service.
Results With access to your medical records you can check any results or letters
Holidays You may be in another country and taken ill. You may decide to allow the doctor access to your records (a personal decision). It might be that you forgot to order your repeat prescription and need it to be ready on your return. You can do this by using an internet café. You usually find such facilities in most holiday destinations. This has been tried very successfully from abroad.
Appointments Appointments at the Practice can be viewed on screen and cancelled if you wish. If you are going to see a healthcare professional outside your area you can allow them to see your records online (if facilities exist) or print out the relevant information and take it with you. (The date will be on the bottom of the printout)
Community It might be that you are receiving care at home and it is necessary for latest results of tests to be known before treatment is given. You can check the results yourself or allow anyone else you see fit to do so.
Nursing Homes If a relative is in a nursing home, and you have been given access to their records, by monitoring the ‘consultation’ section you can monitor their care. Records of visits by doctors along with comments by the doctor will be recorded here. This could be done from anywhere in the world.
Relatives Should you wish, you can share all your health records with relatives or just part by printing the part you wish to share.
Time For most people there is never enough time — doctors included. Much time can be saved by ordering repeats via the net. You can track the details and progress of your request before instructing the chemist to collect. Blood results, x-rays or letters can be checked. If they are normal it saves you time not having to travel to the surgery (can be lengthy & expensive if you don’t have your own transport). It also leaves a free appointment allowing the doctor to see someone who is in need of an appointment.
Information You can easily check information about any medication prescribed by clicking on the blue ‘i’ button listed next to your medication in the list. This also includes information on how to take the medication such as ‘on an empty stomach’ or ‘with food’ etc which is not always available when you receive tablets in bottles. You can check what results mean or check a condition and some help guidelines. There are links to support groups e.g. Diabetes UK .
Security The system uses a similar security approach as online / internet banking IF you keep your passwords secure. Just as in the same way that you wouldn’t leave your bankers card and pin numbers lying around (particularly at work) and then wonder how someone managed to withdraw money from your account, it is essential that you do not leave your passwords where they can be found. This may also include at home if you don’t want family members to view your records. Don’t use obvious passwords such as names, birthdays or anniversaries etc.
Forgotten History There may be something in your history you don’t want any family members to see. It might be information you had put to the back of your mind and are now confronted with it!
Bad News You may read some bad news before the doctor has seen it.
Abnormal Results Results may be abnormal and cause you to worry
X-rays A chest x-ray may show a shadow and ? Cancer
What should you do! – The alternatives are the same for all three. Ring the surgery and ask for a telephone consultation If out of hours, don’t look at the results if you are prone to worry – wait until the surgery opens before checking Speak with NHS Direct – 0845 46 47 (available 24 hours) Ring Surgery for out of hours number Ring A&E only if you are feeling really unwell Remember had you not had access you would not have known the results until either the doctor / Practice contacted you or you rang for the results
3rd party information You might want to tell the doctor something about your spouse/partner/child etc in confidence. If the doctor records the information and the patient then sees this it could cause problems. If the doctor doesn’t vital information may get lost or forgotten The information may be malicious and again cause problems
Children When is a child not a child? Some children may be 12 years old but appear to be much more mature whilst others could be 18 years old but are still relatively immature At what age should children have their own passwords? What about a teenage girl who wants contraception but doesn’t want her parents to know?