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Hunt wants 15% of NHS users to access GP record via smartphone app in 2016/17

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he wants 15% of NHS users to regularly access their GP record via smartphone apps by 2016/17.

The ambition, set out at the NHS England Health and Care Innovation Expo yesterday, comes amid the Government’s plan for all GP records to be made available to patients online next year, and all hospital records in 2018.

But Mr Hunt went even further by suggesting patients should be able to modify their patient record via smartphone and plug in devices such as digital step counters to upload data to their record.

Defending plans of which GP leaders remain wary, Mr Hunt said that experience from other countries ‘suggests that opening up access to your own medical record leads to a profound change in culture in a way that is transformative for people with complex or long term conditions’.

He said: ‘Powerful patients need to know about the quality of healthcare being provided, but they also need to be able to harness the many innovations now becoming possible… [and] I also want patients not just to be able to read their medical record on their smartphone but to add to it, whether by recording their own comments or by plugging in their own wearable devices to it.’

Mr Hunt said the CQC’s inspections into data security standards at GP practices, due to begin next April, would instil faith among patients that their data was safe. He said the CQC was currently determining what the inspections would look at and would report by the end of January.

But the BMA said there was ‘a big difference between being able to physically view private records in a secure, controlled environment of a practice and via a password that could be obtained by a third party’.

A spokesperson said: ‘There are few safeguards that could be put in place to stop vulnerable patients being coerced by, for example, abusive partners, into giving access to their records. The government must also ensure that the system is not susceptible to security breaches that have happened with other online data.’

RCGP chair Professor Maureen Baker said: ‘GPs are under incredible pressure… and we simply do not have the resources to analyse data that patients upload to their records.’