How does access to your GP electronic health records help you to self care more?


Patients have often been to see their GP or nurse with a minor ailment for advice. Sometimes you may suffer with a serious long term condition such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or even angina but still might get a minor ailment and not be sure whether you should see the doctor, the pharmacist or continue to self care at home. What if you could see what happened the last time you went to the doctor or the out-of-hours service and were given advice to follow that did not require a prescription or maybe you were given a prescription for medication that you could have just as easily bought over the counter instead? Do you identify with any of the scenarios described below:

  • Been to the surgery, waited to see the doctor or nurse having taken time off work or to sit in a waiting room with people coughing and sneezing all over you only to be told eventually by the doctor or nurse simple advice and reassurance and that you could have gone to the pharmacist instead ? 
  • You are on repeat medications for a long term condition but keep forgetting to put your repeat script in the surgery to get your medication every month on time?
  • You have been to see the doctor or nurse, waited a while and then when they call you in then seem to do lots of things very quickly in the 10 minute consultation, tell you what they have done, what they think is wrong with you, give you medication to do and how to take it, told you what side effects you might get what to look out for and when you must return sooner if something “serious” happens and to book in with somebody else because you need their expertise too. How many times have you thought – I cannot remember all that but daren’t ask anybody because I know how busy the doctor or nurse is!
  • You already book holidays on-line, perhaps have bought some items from an on-line store, keep an eye on your finances on-line and occasionally go on a search engine such as google to find out about your health and wondered when healthcare will ever catch up and work with you and how you do everything else in life 
  • You wish you could book a ROUTINE appointment with the doctor at a time of your convenience rather than just whatever is next available and be able to SCHEDULE this into YOUR busy life.
  • You know you are on a list of medications or maybe you know your parents are supposed to be taking medication but they don’t seem to be taking them and they just keep saying “I don’t like them” but you wonder what they are, why they are prescribed and whether any harm might come if they are not taken? Your parents trust you and rely on you to do the right thing but you feel completely powerless to do anything other than watch them suffer. 
  • You just want to care better for yourself and your family and do everything you possibly can to help but don’t quite know how .
  • You have had a medication review done by a pharamcist but because you and they did not have access to your records, it wasn’t altogether clear why you were on medications, what tests and investigations had been done or organised and hence the pharmacist was not able to help you as much as you or they would have liked and been able to.
  • You wish you could be kept informed about what is going on in the practice by simply getting an e-mail or signing up for a newsletter that arrives in your inbox rather than having to come to the surgery all the time. Afterall that’s how you learn about other things that are happening in your life too!
  • You are inquisitive and like to read articles in newspapers about health conditions but never know how relevant the information is and whether it is there simply to sell newspapers or whether there is some truth in it
  • You have bought yourself a blood pressure machine and occasionally take your blood pressure readings but the booklet that came with it is now full and you don’t know where to put the readings. Or you have joined a weight reduction club and are busy monitoring your weight but didn’t know that your GP, nurse or pharmacist might be interested in your readings. You have been on many of these things before and interest in it soon wears off before you try the next version instead. Somebody has told you about HealthSpace where you can record your own readings safely on the internet and it can print tables and graphs to show how you are doing. Wouldn’t it be great if you could print these readings that you have taken over a long period of time and it is always there ready for you when you are next interested in trying to improve your blood pressure or your weight.
  • You don’t have time to be ill! You just want to be able to go to trusted websites that give you excellent advice working in conjunction with your doctor or nurse so that you KNOW THEY WILL BE PLEASED WITH YOU.

Over 800 patients at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres have now signed up for full access to their GP electronic health records. Many more have signed up to order repeat prescriptions on-line and to book appointments at a time of their convenience up to 6 weeks in advance. They can learn about the medications they are on and the conditions they suffer with simply by pressing the blue “information” button when they are on-line. That takes them to trusted websites to give them more information. We have also created this website as a resource. On the home page on the left, you can see the “patient control panel” which helps to launch your self care knowledge experience, Use this to look at what your doctor or nurse has wrtten about you, what advice they have given and what the plan is. Compare it with advice from the Map of Medicine or NHS Choices. Based on current viewings, we think up to 90,000 page views of the practice website will happen by the end of the year indicating more and more people (patients as well as members of the public) are looking at our website to learn how they can self care more!

If you would like to know how you can get access to your GP electronic health records then send us an e-mail on [email protected] and ask the receptionist for your PIN numbers so that you can register for the service too. We will send you an e-mail (and a text message if you give us yor mobile number too) telling you how to do it.

Isn’t it time you improved your ability to self care by knowing much better how you are doing and looking at other websites that teach you how you should be doing and using this informatin to discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharamcist!