Researchers concerned over online patient record access

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Researchers are concerned about the potential for online patient record access to cause unintended harm, reveals a new report.

Following the government’s proposal for all adults to have online access to their health and social care records by 2020, researchers from the Institute of Child Health, QMUL and the University of Bristol have raised their concerns.

In a British Journal of General Practice editorial, the researchers recommend that online access to the full medical record should be implemented slowly, in a staged process and with thorough evaluation.

While they agree that online access is likely to have a transformative effect on the content and use of health records and also on general practice itself, the researchers are particularly concerned about the potential for coercion: patients unwillingly giving others access to their online medical record.

Prof Gene Feder, a GP and Professor of Primary Care at Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, said: “Coercion may result from overt threats or physical force in an abusive relationship or may appear under the guise of helping a vulnerable relative, especially older people or those with learning disabilities.

“References to abuse or maltreatment in the medical record seen by household members may lead to escalation of the abuse, restricted access to health care for victims or pressure or aggression directed at health staff to change the record.”

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