The need for Patient Accessible Medical Records

I came across an excellent report on homecare and chronic disease management this week, produced by Pam Garside of the University of Cambridge for Healthcare at Home.  Entitled “Lessons from the US” it looks at homecare practice in the two countries.  Healthcare at Home are a commercial organisation with an interest in promoting home care (which you probably guessed from their name), but the report seems to be refreshingly clear independent.

It compares and contrasts the use of remote monitoring technology in the US and UK to support patients at home, both in terms of release from hospital and to manage long term chronic conditions.  Its main conclusion is that the UK is far better positioned to benefit from this than the US.  But there’s one proviso – that the UK needs to put in place a system that allows patient records to be shared between those involved in care, including the patients themselves.

The report acknowledges that this is currently lacking in the UK, but predicts that this will be remedied during the course of 2010 by the introduction on Summary Care Records (SCRs).

Pam’s obviously not spoken to the British GP’s Council.  This week their chairman – Laurence Buckmann, made a presentation to the Local Medical Committee’s Conference calling for SCRs to be scrapped, ostensibly because they require a patient to opt out, rather than opting in.  It’s part of an ongoing campaign against SCRs by the British Medical Association (BMA) that makes Luddites look progressive.  And which seriously threatens innovation within the NHS.

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Electronic Health Records, Data Integrity, Consumer Apps and Continua.

A few weeks ago I was talking to someone who mentioned the Talisman SOS bracelet that she and her family wore and suggested that people should be encouraged to add basic medical information into their phone.  In the UK there have been a number of campaigns to persuade people to add an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number into their list of contacts.  Her suggestion was that this could be expanded to include key medical details.  Plenty of such phone apps like this already exist, such as My Life Record, Smart-ICE, Hermes and Allscripts Remote.  The problem they bring is how much they can be trusted, particularly in an emergency.  It’s something that is causing considerable anguish not only within the medical profession, but also within industry groups who are trying to move medical monitoring into the home. It was a hot topic at this week’s Wireless Communications in Healthcare Conference in London.

At the heart of the problem is the integrity of data that goes into a clinical record.  Until recently, data was only ever entered by members of the medical profession.  The advent of accessible electronic health records means that patients can begin to enter their own data or modify their records.  Whilst I believe that’s the way the world has got to move, it raises important issues.

Take the case of Julia…

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