• 22Mar

    Blog: How giving patients access to health records can transform care – a GP’s perspective

    Joint with The Richmond Group, this is the third blog on the benefits of enabling people to access their health records. Dr Amir Hannan, GP, describes how it’s normal to access electronic health records and understand them at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres:

    Patients at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres (HTMC) have been able to view their full GP electronic health record and gain a better understanding of their care for over 14 years. Currently 63% of all our patients have signed up. As a GP in this practice I, along with the patients and staff, wonder how we ever managed without it.

    On paper, we are no different to the thousands of other practices giving patients high quality care. Except there is a difference. All patients are encouraged to sign up for full access to their electronic health records and invited to understand their care better.

    Our patients, and their carers, are asked if they would like access to their full GP electronic health record as part of their care. This leads to shared decision making. The patient does not have to try and remember everything. They can become active partners in their care. As clinicians, we know the context for our patients. It’s our responsibility to explain to them why they may benefit from patient access and understanding of their records. Patients complete a Records Access And Understanding Safety Checklist questionnaire which helps them to consider the key issues including challenges as well as benefits.  Our receptionists or other staff members can help alongside the clinicians.

    With more patients living longer and with multiple co-morbidities, it is becoming increasingly important for patients to see somebody who knows them beyond just their record. As patients gain a better understanding of their healthcare needs, they can manage simpler tasks themselves such as ordering prescriptions on time, booking in for regular blood tests, checking when scans are back or reviewing what their doctor or nurse has said. This means if they do need an appointment they can choose the right person for them and make best use of their appointment. This is particularly important for those with more complex health and social care needs. We’ve known examples of when patients check their records in the waiting room before an appointment so they are fully prepared.

    Consultations are already changing from reading off the screen, what patients can just as easily read themselves, to spending more time focusing on planning for the future and gaining a shared understanding. We plan to build on the work we have done on enabling patients to complete medical histories before they come to see us, encouraging patients to be better prepared at sharing their data with others and more importantly share the knowledge gained. We encourage other GP practices to get started too, sharing our model and experience, so not only patients benefit but also the GPs and teams supporting them.

    Read the full blog here: https://understandingpatientdata.org.uk/news/guest-blog-patient-access-gp-perspective