Did you know that many people can now access most of their health records online? Reedyford Health Care is pleased to be able to offer this as a service to our patients.
There is no obligation on GP practices to allow patients to access their health records online, however there are several practices around the UK which have been offering online access to their patients with good results. We are piloting access to online records for our patients at Reedyford Health Care on an individual basis.
In 2012 the UK Government announced that they plan on making online access to health records available to all patients from 2015. They have not issued clear guidelines about how to manage the three scenarios shown below which would make it difficult to be able to offer this to all our patients. We appreciate that you may feel that these restrictions on access are less than ideal. We may review these restrictions once we are more familiar with the practicalities of offering patients access to their records online.
We are currently accepting patients onto the online access to records service. Please enquire with reception about access to records.
Not All Patients Can Access Their Records Online
There are a few groups of patients who we are unable to offer this service to at this time. There are only a few reasons why people may not be allowed access. These rules have been chosen for specific reasons and to comply with the law around patients having access to their records. All patients have the option of asking to see their health records. The option of being able to see your record without a member of the practice staff being present is a big advantage to having access to records online but this also presents us with some new challenges.
Patients Who Cannot Have Access to Online Records Include:
- Children under the age of 16 years. This is to satisfy the issues around child protection and age at which a child becomes ‘Gillick Competent’.
- Anyone with third party information in their records (unless the third party gives their consent for the information to be shared). As this is a pilot project and to keep things simple, any records that include free text entries made after 1.1.2013 which involve another person will be excluded from this pilot. An example of this would be if the notes said, “The patient is worried that Florence Capp is drinking too much alcohol”. The patient would not be able to see this part of his records unless Florence agreed to this information being shared. Florence has identifiable information about her in the records which belong to somebody else.
- Anyone who may be harmed by accessing their records. The general concept seems to be that most patients would benefit from being able to access their records, but this would not be suitable for every patient. For example, if a patient tended to worry about things, then the doctor may decide that having immediate access to their records, including when the GP practice is shut, would be less advisable.
- Anyone with documented history of domestic abuse.
Consider Carefully Whether Online Access is Appropriate to You
- You may get to see a test result before the doctor who requested it has had the chance to see this or comment on it.
- If you are concerned that you may be pressurized into sharing your medical record with someone who you would not want to share it with then we recommend that you do not ask for access to your records online.
- Sometimes people start to forget about bad things that have happened to them in the past. Seeing your medical record could bring these to the front of your mind again, and could give you distress.
What You Can Do and See In Your Online Records
Patient Access allows the practice to specify what parts of the records can be seen. Patients can view:
- Active and past medical problems
- Blood test result
- X-ray results
- Laboratory results.
- “Free text” notes made by clinical staff after January 1 2012. This will enable patients to have a reasonable amount of their records to view. We have had to limit the amount of free text entries visible as part of this pilot to make the process of reviewing the records more achievable.
- Request repeat prescriptions online
- Allergies recorded
Why Would a Patient Want To See Their Records Online?
- A patient may want to read the letters the hospital has sent to the GP
- They can check that the GP referral letter has been sent to the hospital
- A patient can read a letter received from the hospital following an appointment
- If a patient was abroad on holiday, and needed medical help they may wish to be able to access their UK health records
- A patient may be wondering about asking the GP to prescribe a medicine that they had previously had
- Patients could view the records to check their last blood pressure reading or blood test result
- Patients are able to email questions to the practice via a secure link which creates an email to reception
- Repeat prescriptions can be requested
- Patients can follow links to websites and information leaflets to help them learn about their health conditions
How can I Get Access do my GP Records online?
If you are interested in having the higher level of access to your records then you need to complete a form which you can get from reception at either surgery. Or you can apply by clicking the following link which will open a form you to fill in and return to either surgery:
Online records form
Once the form has been handed into reception, it will be passed onto a GP to look at.
What Happens Once I Have Requested Access To My Records?
A GP will look at your records to make sure that there are no reasons why accessing your records would be a bad idea. Prior to the practice agreeing to turn on the online access a GP will read all free text entries made after 1.1.2012 to check that there are no references to third parties. The further back we set the date, the more work would be involved, and we would not be able to offer this to as many patients. You will receive an email within 3 weeks to confirm you have access. You are then free to change your password and can explore your records. If there are reasons why the GP feels that it is not advisable for you to have immediate access to your records, then the GP will contact you to explain the reasons why.
What if I don’t understand what I am reading online?
You can either make a note of the question and message reception via the online service , or print off the relevant part of the records and bring this with you to a consultation with your GP. There are some common abbreviations that GPs use when writing in the notes. You can get some tips on understanding your record here by clicking here: (link to be inserted later ) We will develop the ‘Understanding Your Records’ page as we receive questions from patients as this project continues. The most important thing to remember is that we are not expecting you to become an expert at reading your online medical records. Please ask if you have any questions or concerns. We are aiming to help you have a better understanding of your own health conditions, at your own pace.
You will continue to be able to access all the services that patients can access via the traditional methods, either by telephoning reception, letters, email or just calling into reception when we are open.
Please note that we are promoting online access but you have to register for this service in person, at the practice. Once you have registered you can enjoy the convenience of being able to help manage your healthcare 24 hours a day online.