The UK NHS has unveiled plans that promise to give every patient in the UK digital access to their GP records next year, and full access to every detail of doctor and hospital visits including drugs, reactions, and tests by the end of 2018.
“In just four years, every citizen will be able to access their health records at the click of a button, detailing every visit to the GP and hospital, every prescription, test results, and adverse reactions and allergies to drugs. Patients will also be able to record their preferences and thoughts alongside official medical notes”, reads a news release from NHS England.
Even the Personal Child Health Record – the red book carried between hospital appointments and health checkups by expectant parents and those with young children – will be digitised and available via mobile devices.
I am inspired by the vision laid out by the NHS – digital access to health records is something I have dreamed of for years and I believe this is a key legacy that will be left by the current generation of health innovators.
The most ambitious part of the vision is surely not the application of technology – providing digital access to health records has technically been a possibility for years – but rather, as with all innovation in healthcare, the greatest challenge will lie in the cultural change that will be required within the NHS. I am encouraged to see the NHS news release supported at the highest level by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, who said that he wants the NHS to be “a world class showcase of what innovation can achieve”.
The key to this world class showcase of innovation will be for the NHS to put at least as much energy into winning the hearts and minds of the UK’s thousands of healthcare professionals and other health workers, as it does into technology implementation. The result, I believe, will be a better health system for all of us. I hope and pray it succeeds!