Patients at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust are being given access to their own online medical records.

Twelve liver patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham will begin trialling the myhealth@qebh system next week.

It will enable them to view documents about their care, such as details of past and future appointments, medications, diagnosis and test results online.

James Ferguson, consultant hepatalogist at the trust who pioneered the idea, told eHealth Insider: “A lot of patients come a long distance and have a number of clinicians looking after them.

“Patients are often concerned about how they access data about themselves and how their doctors are linked together.

"So it seemed sensible for patients to have access to their record to help them understand their condition and ensure others have the right information."

The system allows a user to log-in using a username and password and a set of security questions. A user can then both upload new results themselves and print documents off to show other healthcare providers.

Ferguson added: “The system will be just like internet banking; providing patients with the information they need from any computer, anywhere.

“The patients have been involved in the design all the way through. We’ll now monitor how they use the system and how often for the next four to six months to assess success.”

Ferguson said that although Birmingham is conducting a relatively small trial there has been a huge amount of interest in the project. The first 12 people that were asked to participate all said ‘yes.’

He added: “We wanted to do a manageable pilot to start off with, but the next pilot is likely to run across the whole liver department, which is potentially thousands of patients.

"We’ll then formally assess the gains and the potential for it to be rolled out trust wide.”

The hospital received a £60,000 grant from UHB charities to fund the project, but most of this went on employing a new member of staff to undertake the initial development.

A wider scale roll-out would incur little extra cost as the system is based on in-house products.

“Access will be provided through a combination of our portal – which contains patient letters and so on – and our PICS (prescribing information and communications system) – which has all the results and very soon diagnosis and medications – to present the information in an easy way,” Ferguson added.

The record is also being developed to allow patients with similar conditions, or experiences to communicate with each other.