Benefits and Challenges of GP Record Access

We've brought together all the information you need to enable you to decide if you want access to your electronic health record as easy as possible.

Benefits

Get more involved in your own healthcare

You will have an active role in your own healthcare, 

and develop a good relationship with your GP and Practice.  

Results
With access to your GP records, you can check any results or letters

Stay in touch with your own health on holiday        

  • You may be in another country and taken ill.  You may decide to allow the doctor access to your records (a personal decision).  

  • It might be that you forgot to order your repeat prescription and need it to be ready on your return.  You can do this by using an internet café. You usually find such facilities in most holiday destinations.  This has been tried very successfully from abroad.

Appointments 

  • Appointments at the Practice can be viewed on screen and cancelled if you wish.

  • If you are going to see a healthcare professional outside your area you can allow them to see your records online (if facilities exist) or print out the relevant information and take it with you. (The date will be on the bottom of the printout).

Share your GP Record at home with your carers

  • It might be that you are receiving care at home, and it is necessary for latest results of tests to be known before treatment is given.  

  • You can check the results yourself, or allow anyone else you see fit to do so.

Nursing Homes           

  • If a relative is in a nursing home, and you have successfully requested ‘Proxy Access’ from your GP to their GP care record, by checking the ‘consultation’ section you can monitor their care.  

  • Records of visits by doctors along with comments by the doctor will be recorded here.  This could be done from anywhere in the world.

Relatives          
Should you wish, you can share all your health records with relatives, or just part by printing the part you wish to share.   

Time

  • For most people, there is never enough time — doctors included.  Much time can be saved by ordering repeats via the net.  

  • You can track the details and progress of your request before instructing the chemist to collect.  Blood results, x-rays or letters can be checked.  

  • If they are normal it saves you time not having to travel to the surgery (can be lengthy & expensive if you don’t have your own transport).  

  • It also leaves a free appointment allowing the doctor to see someone who needs an appointment.

Information Security

  • The system uses a similar security approach as online / internet banking IF you keep your passwords secure.  Just as in the same way that you wouldn’t leave your bankers card and pin numbers lying around (particularly at work) and then wonder how someone managed to withdraw money from your account, it is essential that you do not leave your passwords where they can be found.  

  • This may also include at home if you don’t want family members to view your records.  

  • Don’t use obvious passwords such as names, birthdays or anniversaries etc.

Challenges

Below are listed some challenges you may want to consider before using GP Record access.

Forgotten History
There may be something in your history you don’t want any family members to see.  It might be information you had put to the back of your mind and are now confronted with it!

Bad News
You may read some bad news before the doctor has seen it.

Abnormal Results

  • Results may be abnormal and cause you to worry: X-rays. A chest x-ray may show a shadow and what about cancer? What should you do! - The alternatives are the same for all three. Contact your GP surgery and ask for a consultation. If out of hours, don't look at the results if you are prone to worry - wait until the surgery opens before checking.

  • Remember, had you not had access you would not have known the results until either the doctor / Practice contacted you or you rang for the results.

3rd party information

  • You might want to tell the doctor something about your spouse/partner/child etc in confidence, which they will enter into your GP record

  • If the doctor records the information, and our spouse/partner/child etc then sees this, it could cause problems.

  • If the doctor doesn’t, vital information may get lost or forgotten.

  • The information may be malicious and again cause difficulties.

Children

  • When is a child not a child? - Some children may be 12 years old but appear to be much more mature whilst others could be 18 years old but are still relatively immature.

  • At what age should children have their own passwords?

  • What about a teenage girl who wants contraception but doesn’t want her parents to know?

The videos below explore the benefits and challenges of GP Record Access some more.

Video Credits: The videos above were created by Dr Amir Hannan, MBE of Haughton Thornley Medical Centres, with patients from the practice and the patient participation group [PPG], who have all  been pioneers of patients using GP Record Access, since 2007.

By now you must have quite a few questions, so the next page in this series is our Frequently Asked Questions page [FAQ].