Doctors voice concerns over plan for greater patient access to medical records | Society | The Guardian

From their website, Denis Campbell the Guardian’s Health Policy Editor writes;
(I think the articles is so good that I’m reproducing it in full

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced plans to give patients in England access to their entire medical record by 2018, and to let them read and add to their GP record using their smartphone within a year.

The announcement at NHS England’s annual conference in Manchester prompted fears of a repeat of last year’s row over, a programme in which patient records were shared outside the NHS without their consent. The opposition forced NHS England to halt the scheme temporarily while it addressed the concerns.

Phil Booth, coordinator of the campaign group MedConfidential, said: “Shoving highly sensitive information to patients via their smartphones really won’t help doctors treat them in 2016, and medical bodies like the Royal College of GPs have already pointed out it could expose the vulnerable to stalking, abuse and coercion, not to mention predatory companies who can’t wait to get their hands on such valuable data.”

Organisations representing doctors also expressed misgivings, with the British Medical Association (BMA) warning that vulnerable patients could be coerced by abusive partners to reveal what they had told their doctor.

Some doctors, especially GPs, are also concerned that, from 2018, notes that they and other health professionals have written in patients’ medical records, which they were never intended to see, will become known to the patients involved. For example, a GP may have recorded that a patient may be at risk of cancer because they smoke, but never told the person that directly.

Dame Fiona Caldicott, the national data guardian for health and care – whose role will be put on to a statutory footing as part of the overhaul of security – will take part in the review. As a first step, by January she will develop new guidelines for the protection of patients’ personal data, which every organisation providing health and care services will have to abide by.

That will be strengthened by using CQC inspections and the awarding of contracts by NHS England to ensure that stringent standards of data security are being applied.

As it stands patients can only view a summary of their medical history. But from 2018 they will be able to see their entire record, though it is not yet clear how that will happen.

Hunt said patient access to their own records would lead to mistakes being rectified and to patients taking their own health more seriously. Patients would be able to add what they see as useful information, such as the number of steps they walk each day, so their GP can monitor their physical activity, he said.

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The BMA said it had concerns about the security of patient records if they were to be placed online. “There is a big difference between being able to physically view private records in a secure, controlled environment of a practice and via a password that could be obtained by a third party,” a spokesman for the doctors’ union said.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said family doctors were already so busy that they did not have time to monitor and assess information added by patients themselves.

“GPs are under incredible pressure, seeing more patients than ever before, and we simply do not have the resources to analyse data that patients upload to their records as a matter of course,” Baker said.

“However, this data can be used to trigger conversations between GPs and their patients about leading healthier lifestyles – and as long as it is done safely and responsibly, this is something we would encourage.”

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