Feeds

Report damns health records scheme

'Benefits yet to be realised, hard to articulate and difficult to isolate'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A detailed review of the Summary Care Record programme and HealthSpace - its related "portal" - by University College London has found only "modest benefits" from the scheme.

Researchers found records are not widely available, and where they are available they're not always accessed by doctors. Where doctors do access them they are aware of inaccuracies and "clinicians use their judgement when interpreting such data and take account of other sources of information including the patient".

The three-year study found no direct evidence of an improvement to patient safety although findings were consistent with "a rare but important impact of the SCR on reducing medication errors". The records had no impact on consultation times but did lead nurses and doctors to find such consultations easier and less stressful.

Lead author Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, said: “This research shows that the significant benefits anticipated for these programmes have, by and large, yet to be realised – and that they may be achieved only at high cost and enormous effort. When we did find them, they were subtle, hard to articulate and difficult to isolate. It serves to demonstrate the wider dilemma of national databases: that scaling things up doesn’t necessarily make them more efficient or effective.

A Department of Health spokesman welcomed the report and said its findings would be considered.

He said: "Broadly our view is that we see a need for both patients and clinicians to be able to access patient records in an electronic form. This is part of our thinking about making information transparent and available, while involving patients in decisions about their healthcare.

"Specifically in relation to the Summary Care Record, we believe the current processes that are in place need reviewing to ensure that both the information that patients receive, and the process by which they opt out, are as clear and simple as possible. Also, we see a need to review the content of the record and to agree with key stakeholders what should be added to the record and over what timescale.

"Using Summary Care Records effectively depends on patients and doctors feeling an ownership of these records, so that care is focused on patients' wishes delivered by clinicians exercising their professional judgement."

HealthSpace is an online personal health portal designed to let patients access their own records and, if they have an "advanced" account, communicate with their GP over a secure connection. Apparently this wonderful website would empower patients to self-manage their records, improving data quality and access to services.

In reality one person in 200 who was asked to open a basic HealthSpace account actually did so. Out of those only one in a thousand went on to open an advanced account.

The few people who did use the service found it limited and failed to see any benefits from it. But people who were allowed to email their GP thanks to the portal "enjoyed being able to bypass a busy reception desk".

The summary of the report is here.

The Foundation for Information Policy Research said UCL's report showed the summary care record programme was bringing in very few benefits and had the potential to do real harm and therefore should be scrapped. FIPR warned that the SCR programme was "another spectacularly badly-managed public-sector IT project. It cost a lot of money, and is not much used." ®

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.