Four TPP practices are piloting a scheme to provide patients with access to their health records online; but the company’s clinical director has said many GPs still have concerns.

TPP is piloting the functionality for patients to access their own records through SystmOnline, which already allows them to book appointments, order prescriptions and change demographic details via the web.

Four practices have been involved in the original pilot – including a practice in Ashton, Leigh and Wigan, and the Phoenix Medical Centre in Bradford. More are joining the scheme.

The government has pledged that all patients will have access to their records online by 2015 and provided some detail about how this will be achieved in the newly released NHS information strategy – ‘The Power of Information’.

Clinical director Dr John Parry said TPP held a session on access to the patient record at last week’s National User Group conference.

“The initial conversation was that the general practice population are very, very worried about it because of the overhead of work it will produce for primary care,” he said.

He added that GPs were not necessarily convinced of the work done by GP pioneers Dr Brian Fisher and Dr Amir Hannan, who have shown benefits from giving records access to patients.

Many GPs remain concerned about information governance issues, such as third party data in the record, and are still debating issues such as whether to give access to the historical record or whether to work with a new, electronically accessible record going forward.

Dr Parry said the GPs involved in the pilot were finding it difficult to get the project going. “In practices, there’s always an enthusiast, but other partners tend to be very worried about it,” he explained.

“I think it’s a noble goal, I have sympathy with it because you get a better quality of consent for sharing records if you know what’s in them.”

Dr Parry said there had been enormous uptake amongst users of SystmOne of the transactional elements of online patient access, such as booking appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions.

“Because we have got the infrastructure it would be easy to do the next stage, but [the question is] what is the next stage?” he asked.

“If the NHS is serious about this, which I hope it is, I don’t want money poured into IT suppliers because I think we can just do it.

“I want an NHS standard approach to the delivery of it and there is a need to do this very quickly because time is marching on.” Everyone wants central guidance to say: ‘as a minimum, this is what a patient needs access to’.”

Dr Parry believed it would reduce the burden on practices of patients ringing up to check test results if they could view them online. He is in ongoing discussions with TPP’suser group about developing the existing functionality for future pilots.

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