NHS CB to build My Health portal

  • 20 June 2012
NHS CB to build My Health portal

The NHS Commissioning Board is looking to create a new website called My Health where patients will be able to access their GP records, book appointments and order prescriptions.

The Health Service Journal reports that the job description for a new director of customer experience post at the board will include the development of My Health.

The website will be a “digital multi-channel business development to allow patients to access their own health records and link these to functional transactions, including booking appointments and ordering prescriptions," the job ad says.

The website will act as a replacement for the government’s failed HealthSpace initiative, which was designed as a health organiser and then extended to give people access to their Summary Care Record.

The demise of HealthSpace was confirmed by national clinical director for informatics Dr Charles Gutteridge at a Westminster Forum last month.

Dr Gutteridge told the forum that the DH needed to create a new portal through which patients could view their SCRs.

In a document called ‘The Design of the NHS Commissioning Board’, issued in February, the NHS CB indicates that My Health will be part of the patient and information function that will be headed by Tim Kelsey.

A NHS CB spokesperson confirmed that the board will be working with DH social care and public health teams to develop a single, online portal for patients and the public.

"This will bring together the best of the relevant information and online services currently provided by the existing national web services: NHS Choices, NHS Direct online, NHS 111 online content and Healthspace," the spokesperson said.

"This will act as a ‘front door’ to the best information on health and care available on the internet.”

However, Dr Neil Bhatia told EHI Primary Care that he thought the My Health development looks like HealthSpace under a new name, and that it would be a waste of time and money.

Dr Bhatia is a GP at a practice that has led a campaign to require explicit consent from patients before uploading their SCRs.

He said he has never been asked by a patient to provide online records access, but had decided to trial the idea using EMIS Access.

Despite his efforts over three to four years, the GP has now given up due to lack of interest amongst patients.

He said about 30 patients said they wanted access, but only about 11 actually registered and even fewer patients actually used it. “It’s just hopeless, nobody seems to want it,” Dr Bhatia said.

He added that in his opinion EMIS Access is “clunky and unreliable.” The company has announced an overhaul of the service last month, with more support for patients with issues such as passwords.

Dr Bhatia said he might consider offering access again when the site is smoother and more reliable, but he still saw "absolutely no demand for it." 

“I just don’t know how many patients want to look back at their consultations,” he explained.

He is trialing online appointment booking, but uptake is very low, and patients can request repeat prescriptions through the practice website. “My Health will be a terrible waste of money," he predicted.

“Why would patients who wish to access online booking or repeat prescriptions, or indeed their medical records, go via a centrally-controlled government website when they can access it directly – and far more securely – via their practice?” he asked.

Read more about the Summary Care Record and HealthSpace in Insight, as part of our features marking ten years of the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

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