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NHS axes HealthSpace: 'Just too difficult' to use

Secure personal health record project canned from March 2013

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The Department of Health has confirmed that HealthSpace, NHS patients' personal health records organiser, will close by March 2013.

It follows a speech this week by Dr Charles Gutteridge, national clinical director for informatics at the Department of Health, at the Westminister Health Forum in London. Gutteridge said in the speech that although he has used HealthSpace to communicate with patients, he did not think it was a technology that would ever take off.

"It is too difficult to make an account; it is too difficult to log on; it is just too difficult," he said.

"I don't think I am hiding anything if I say to you that we will not continue with HealthSpace. We will close it down over the next year or so."

HealthSpace was set up as the NHS's secure account for patients and their clinicians to access, store and amend elements of their personal medical information.

It was intended to offer users access to information including summary care records, test results and x-rays, along with allowing the exchange of information between clinicians and patients, the booking of appointments and requests for repeat prescriptions.

The service attracted very few users, however. Speaking earlier this year, Gutteridge said the department expected to see a market develop over the next couple of years in suppliers providing platforms for accessing summary care records.

He told the Westminster Forum that the Health Department needs to create a new portal where patients can find their summary care records and view them personally.

Gutteridge added: "In the meantime, I do have some great examples of clinicians in Durham, in Medway, Gloucestershire and elsewhere, who are beginning to use the summary care record in out of hours situations and for reconciliation of drugs and so on. I think there are good use cases beginning to appear for the use of summary care records."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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