PATIENTS in England with the NHS App or other online accounts are to be provided digital access to all new entries in their GP health records from April 2022, under current NHS Digital plans.
There have been calls to delay the “go live” date for this but NHS Digital has yet to issue an update.
This will apply to practices using TPP and EMIS systems and will include test results, free text letters, consultation notes and other documents entered or filed onto their record in the clinical system after the planned April “go live”. Arrangements with practices using Vision as their clinical system are under discussion.
NHS Digital is informing GP practices to be “aware and mindful” that patients will be able to see future records from that date. It will be the responsibility of individual practices to manage the required change in workflow to ensure sensitive information is redacted as it is entered onto the clinical system and to know when it may be inappropriate to give a patient access to their record.
GPs will need to consider the impact of each entry, including documents and test results. Patients will not see personal information (such as positive test results) until they have been checked and filed. This will give clinicians the chance to contact and speak to patients first.
Practices may have administrative staff making entries on the consultation record (e.g. “prescription request forwarded to GP for approval”). Whilst the majority of these are innocuous, there is a risk of something being entered inappropriately or being misinterpreted by the patient. Practices may want to review how such entries are made and perhaps start using patient notes instead. It is also essential that third-party information is redacted at the point of entry into the records.
Patients will not have access to administrative tasks or communications between practice staff.
The change will apply to the NHS App and all other approved patient-facing services apps that provide record access, for example Evergreen, Airmid, SystmOnline and Patient Access. NHS Digital also aims to enable patients to request their historic coded records in 2022 via the NHS App, but this will be phased in carefully to ensure practices are not overloaded with requests.
Patients aged 16 or over (or aged to 13-16 years old and deemed ‘competent’ by their GP) can register for an online account to view their medical record. Parents or carers of younger children are allowed proxy access.
Practices should ensure that relevant staff training has been undertaken in advance of the changes. Further guidance is available on the NHS Digital website at: Giving patients online access to their medical records: guidance for GP practices and the RCGP Patient Online Toolkit is being updated in line with this development.
NHS England are also running online awareness sessions (Microsoft Teams) for GP and operational staff on getting ready for patients to have access to their future data.