EHRs: the patient as resource

by Charles Wright on May 1, 2012

Buried in this story from the UK’s eHealth Insider on the fact that the NHS Information Centre is to collect data on which GP practices are offering patients access to their medical records online – the consequence of a promise by Chancellor George Osborne that by 2015, everybody in England will have online access to their GP records (somewhat behind Australia’s schedule) – is a concept that I find quite fascinating: the patient as a health resource.

The idea comes from Dr Amir Hannan, a full-time GP at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres, where more than 1800 patients now have online access to their records. I’ve written about him a few times previously. He has established that patients who have access to their health records and the resources used by their doctors report needing to see their doctor less often and feeling better prepared to navigate the health system.

He says that the slow pace at which the roll-out of online records is proceeding will prevent the UK health system from achieving the productivity gains it needs in five years time.

“Essentially, we have to do more with less,” he says, “and the one resource that we are not using as best we can is the patient. The more we can enable the patient to do, the less of a burden it is going to be on us.”


Dr Gil Tidhar May 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Consumer engagement is the way forward and has been embraced by the Australian Government in its latest announcements. Indeed engaging consumers through Conformant Consumer Portals (CCP) is an integral part of the PCEHR vision and legislation.

Consumer portals already exist, and integrating them with the PCEHR does not seem to be technically challenging. It is up to NEHTA to decide whether the PCEHR implementation plan reflects the vision, legislation and the Government’s public announcements.

Allowing for consumer portal integration NOW will provide a channel for consumers to engage with the PCEHR. Deferral raises the question: will Australia really be ahead of the UK in 2015…?

Anon May 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Some base conformant consumer portal functionality is already available – the interfaces available for all clinical system vendors provide a consumer portal functions as well for some vendors (depending on the exact arrangements and interaction models).

There are extended functions intended to allow more innovation and flexibility in consumer portals, and those functions require some collaborative design with prospective providers. That work is definitely not going to be done by 1st July.

Dr Gil Tidhar May 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Working collaboratively with providers of innovative consumer portals is definitely the right approach. Hopefully this will be given the appropriate priority by the powers that be.

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