This site is intended for health professionals only

GPs restricting patients’ access to online records

GPs are restricting patients’ access to records to that specified in the GP contract amid fears over a ‘blunt tool’ that could cause data protection issues, systems providers have said.

EMIS has said that the numbers of practices providing patients with online access to their records has ‘shot up’ after it allowed GPs to tailor the parts of the record that patients can see.

The 2014/15 GMS contract requires GPs to provide patients with online access to the medication, allergies and adverse reactions in their summary care record as a minimum, by April 2015. But NHS managers have said they expect GPs to ‘go beyond’ these contract minimums.

EMIS has made revisions to its system that allows practices to set access limits for the entire patient list, or customise it for individuals, including access to free text, letters and documents that would otherwise need to be assessed for third party or harmful information.

Ben Foster, an operations director at EMIS, said that practices were ‘nervous’ about the ‘blunt tool’ of online access.

He said: ‘All of this comes from conversations with practices who might say “I’m a bit nervous about this blunt tool: switching it on or off, if I could enable certain bits it’s really going to help us take up the service”.’

He added: ‘Since going live, hundreds of practices have chosen to enable part of the record. I think, initially, around 100 practices had it enabled in the old [all or nothing]way, but since enabling [tailored access] we’ve seen it shoot up with the move towards April 2015.’

Other system suppliers are currently developing their systems to allow tailored access in line with the GP Systems of Choice provider requirements.