The service set up by the government to allow patients to access their Summary Care Records has not been proven popular among the public, it has been revealed. A major new study has estimated that only 0.13 per cent of those invited to take part has bothered to activate the full functionality of their personal health record.
It was expected that about 5–10 per cent of the population would sign up for the schemen, and that people would use the HealthSpace service, initiated as part of the National Programme for IT, to access their records and tell their GP of any errors found, which would in turn help improve data quality in NHS medical records .
The study, called Connecting for Health, instead showed that just 2,913 of the 2.24 million patients invited to open an advanced account actually did so.
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, who led the research, commented “Unless personal electronic health records align closely with people’s attitudes, self-management practices, identified information needs and the wider care package, the risk that they will be abandoned or not adopted at all is substantial.”
She added “The findings raise questions about how eHealth programmes in England are developed and approved at policy level.”
Update: A Department of Health spokesman said: “As set out in the July 2010 White Paper and expanded on within the current Information Revolution consultatio, the aim is that patients and service users will be increasingly active participants in their care and will share decision making with their clinicians. Healthspace gives patients access to their Summary Care Record online and enables secure communication between clinicians and patients. Our own research, conducted during 2009, showed that patients were keen to have access to their medical records as well as wanting medical updates and test results to be available online. The UCL research has produced a historical snapshot, rather than insight into patients’ needs and expectations. Healthspace continues to be developed in response to those aspirations and the commitment to give patients, as well as clinicians, access to their Summary Care Record.”

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