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Tories plan health record giveaway

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The Tories are today releasing more details of their plan to get Google and Microsoft involved in holding medical records.

The idea is that patients will be given some control over their own records, which could then be stored online. But the Tories seem to think that it would be a good idea to have a locally stored version too, for your doctor to use. Which seems to us to add another layer of complexity and cost. Admittedly, no one could claim the government has done a good job of looking after our data, but that doesn't mean that everyone in the country is able, or willing, to look after their own data.

Personal control of health records "can also empower patients, allowing them to share information with third parties if they choose to do so. For example, it could enable communities of patients to come together online and discuss their conditions and treatments." But this already happens quite effectively in forums and support groups, without people swapping their whole medical histories.

The review also found that: "Personal Health Records run by the private sector (see Box 1 below) mean little or no cost to the taxpayer if they are procured in a fully developed form." Box 1 refers to Microsoft Health Vault, Google Health and Dossia.

The Tory health team is still seeking responses on:

How much control do patients want over their health records?

What should be the limits to patient control? - can patients edit their record, or would doctors get access to an unedited version?

Should there be any exceptions to patient control?

What provisions can be made to safeguard the rights of patients to control their health records and the rights of doctors to base their clinical decisions on a reliable evidence base of patient information?

Shadow Health Minister, Stephen O’Brien said:

“Giving patients greater control over their health records is crucial if we are to make the NHS more patient-centred.

“The Government’s monolithic and costly IT system doesn’t involve patients at all. Yet in patients’ hands, health records could do so much more. We would have a clearer picture of our health and our care and we would be able to add information to help doctors treat us better. This could make a huge difference in helping us understand how to live healthier lifestyles.”

O'Brien is giving more details of the review later today. ®

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