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Over 55 million patients in England set to benefit from accessing their GP record online

Patients in England will be able to view test results as they come in and keep track of their glucose levels and cholesterol on their smartphones, enabling them to take greater control of their care and better manage their health.

Official figures reveal that over 95% of GP practices are now set up to offer online access to detailed GP records including test results and diagnoses as well as referrals, immunisations, procedures and medications history. This is up from just 3% of practices in January this year.

This latest step is part of a raft of online GP services available to patients, which are designed to make their lives easier and more convenient including online appointment booking and ordering of repeat prescriptions.

Offering GP services online has also been shown to be beneficial for GP practices. For example, ‘no show’ rates for appointments booked online are 35% lower than for appointments booked conventionally, saving significant time and resource for GPs.

Dr Arvind Madan, NHS England Director of Primary Care and a Tower Hamlets GP, said: “We understand our patients lead busy lives and finding time to schedule doctors’ appointments, pick up prescriptions or call up for test results can be a challenge.  We want to ensure faster, easier access for patients, as well as support hard pressed practices in becoming more efficient.”

Matthew Swindells, NHS England National Director for Commissioning Operations and Information, said: “We want to give people the tools they need to confidently manage their health.  Encouraging patients to access their GP record online helps put them in the driving seat of their care. Patients with long term conditions such as heart disease will be able to track their lab results including cholesterol levels as soon as they come back to their GP and see how they alter in response to lifestyle changes.”

Dr Imran Rafi, Chair of the Clinical Innovation and Research Centre at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP),  said: “We hope that offering patients online services will help them and their practices to better manage their health, particularly long term conditions. The College has supported practices in offering these services by providing necessary guidance and we look forward to continuing our work with NHS England and other key stakeholders to improve the digital offer in the best interests of our GPs, practice teams and patients.”

Greater use of technology to enhance patient care and experience and reduce the administrative burden on GP practices is a key commitment of the General Practice Forward View, launched by NHS England in April 2016.  Today’s achievement reveals significant progress has been made on the ambition to support practices to reduce their workload and achieve a paper-free NHS by 2020.

Figures for March 2016 show that 8.5 million patients have signed up to book appointments online with 1.4 million appointments booked or cancelled during March, an increase of over 100% from April 2015.

GP practices and patients who use these services report a range of benefits, including:

  • More empowered patients – Hugh Huddy is a registered blind patient who also suffers from long term asthma.  He uses GP online services to access his health information in the privacy of his own home. With a talking smartphone and laptop, he can consult his medical record without having to ask other people to read this to him.  Hugh Huddy, patient, says: “Before I had online patient access, I managed my health in a random and very un-private way, I didn’t feel in control. Patient online has given me my privacy.  It frees you from having to ask for help and I think that’s so important when you’re managing your health.”
  • Reduced workload for practices – Boughton Health Centre reports online appointment booking, ordering of repeat prescriptions and records access have eased the workload of both GPs and reception staff.  Ed Henry, a GP at Boughton Health Centre, says: “It has helped reduce telephone demand and appointments. If patients with record access come to see me now, they already know what they want to talk about which makes our consultations more efficient.”
  • A more convenient service for all – Street Lane GP practice in Leeds say online records access is a more convenient service for both patients and GPs. John Snowden, Deputy Practice Manager at Street Lane GP practice, says: “We were getting lots of requests from patients who wanted to view their records.  These consultations last up to 30 minutes per patient and easily took up a few hours per week.  By opening up health records online, patients no longer need to come to the practice but can view their records from home. It saves them time and money, and … it frees up time at the practice for other patients.”

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7 comments

  1. J M Gold says:

    The information recently added on the Patient Access website is a great disappointment and totally fails to live up to the expectations generated several years ago when we were told that this service would be provided.

    All I get is a list of medications and allergies – both which were already available on other sections of the website.

    No information about chronic diagnoses, no medical history, no hospital consultant reports, no blood test results, no ECGs, no information about having taken steroids.

    In short, almost nothing that would be of use if I were taken in emergency to a hospital which did not already have my records.

    How many £m have been spent on this project, and to what practical purpose?

  2. A Smith says:

    Great in theory but look how time consuming the set up is. How many patients will bother with this and how much admin time will it take a practice? From my surgery:

    Do It Online
    16.3.2015

    Patients are now able to access Summary Records (Medications/Allergies and Adverse reactions).

    All patients must register for access to to summary records (even if a patient already has access to online appointments and repeat prescription ordering).

    To register patients should download the form held in our PRACTICE FORMS tab.

    The form should be completed, each patient needs to personally bring it back into the practice along with the required identification.

    Future plans (hopefully end 2015 early 2016) are to extend the information available to view online, which will include more detail and information – including test results – hence the correct procedure at this stage must be adhered to by each.

    PROCEDURE/POLICY FOR ACCESS TO ONLINE SERVICES:

    •Registration process for all includes: (1) Read and agree to the information leaflet. (2) Complete and sign the registration document. (3) Provide the identification advised – this must be brought into the practice in perons by each individual request.
    •Once the registration has been provided to the practice, access to these services can take upto seven working days for an existing patient, new patients will be processed within normal registration time frames.
    •All patients who already have access to appointment booking and prescription ordering need to agree and complete all registration documents.
    •All patients new to online requests are able to request access for summary records/booking appointments/prescription ordering.
    •Patients over 18 will be eligible for (1) Access to summary records (2) Access to prescription ordering (3) Access to booking/cancelling appointments online.
    •Patients under 18 will be eligible for (1) Access to prescription ordering (2) Access to booking/cancelling appointments online. This will still require this patient to come into the practice personally.
    •The online system will send confirmations via email – We advise all patients to have personal email accounts, if patients do share email accounts you should be aware that others may be able to see your personal details.
    •Patients should be aware of data protection and online security.
    •Access is at the discretion of the practice.
    •Patients who due to a medical condition are unable to attend the practice may assign a proxy – please contact the practice for the information and procedure.
    •Relevant forms and leaflets can be downloaded and printed from the PRACTICE FORMS tab opposite.
    •Each applicant must bring request in PERSONALLY for ID to be verified.
    •Two documents are to be provided for ID – at least one to be photographic, the second to show the patients address – this can be a utility bill or bank statement, a mobile phone bill cannot be used.
    •Patients who are unable to supply said identification can be ‘vouched’ for by the practice team – please contact the practice for further information concerning ‘vouching’

    • NHS England says:

      Dear A. Smith
      Your practice has a clear policy for GP online services, similar to what you would expect from other online services such as banking.
      Practices need to perform the necessary ID checks before granting patients access to online services, in particular the GP records, to protect patient confidentially. To make sure that patients understand their responsibilities when using online services, practices make the relevant information available to patients before they can sign up.
      Our latest figures show that around 8.5 million patients have already signed up for online booking of appointments and ordering of repeat prescriptions. More than 55% of all practises have at least 10% of their registered patients signed up for online services and the numbers are growing steadily.
      Practice staff are trained to sign up patients and usually have an appointed person within the admin team to oversee registration.
      Kind regards,
      Patient Online team

  3. Sharon says:

    Booking and cancelling appointments on line is not the same as accessing your medical record. What are the figures on this?

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Sharon
      Access to detailed coded information in GP records only became universally available in England at the end of March 2016. Statistics for this period are not yet available. At the end of March 2016 177,600 patients in England were registered for online access to their full GP record at practices that decided to offer this service ahead of any contractual requirements.
      Kind regards,
      Patient Online team

  4. Cassandra says:

    ** Over 55 million patients in England set to benefit from accessing their GP record online
    ** Figures for March 2016 show that 8.5 million patients have signed up to book appointments online with 1.4 million appointments booked or cancelled during March, an increase of over 100% from April 2015.
    ** 76% of adults now own smartphones (How many can access anything other than voice and SMS messages?
    ** John Snowden, Deputy Practice Manager at Street Lane GP practice, says: “We were getting lots of requests from patients who wanted to view their records. These consultations last up to 30 minutes per patient and easily took up a few hours per week.
    Just how many is ‘lots’, please? A British Slack Hand full?
    ** It saves them time and money
    Does that mean that you’re making a charge for that service – how much please?

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Cassandra
      As smartphones can connect to the internet, patients registered for online services can log into their account with their phone and use Patient Online services on the go, the same way you would look up your e-mails on your phone or check your latest bank statements.
      Online services are entirely free of charge. When patients view their records online, they can do so from the comfort of their own home without having to call or visit the practice. If patients would like a printed copy of their paper medical record, this could incur a charge up to a maximum of £50.
      Kind regards,
      Patient Online team