The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is working with a number of commercial suppliers to create a digital version of the Redbook.

The Redbook is a record of a child’s health and development including details of tests and immunisations.

The online version is being developed by Sitekit in partnership with Harlow Printing – who print the current book – and will be hosted by Microsoft’s HealthVault.

All the information is the same as in the print version, but the online version will do things such as prompting for scheduling appointments, checking test results online or providing links to NHS information.

It will also give parents or guardians the ability to share the record with other health professionals.

The prototype development work is nearing completion and will be piloted and evaluated by four NHS partner organisations; Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust; NHS Grampian; South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.

Liverpool Community Health deputy director of nursing and quality Alison Shaw said the pilot is being undertaken in the North of Sefton and Central Liverpool.

Parents will be introduced to the pilot eRedbook at their health visitor’s first visit and encouraged to record information about their child’s development and progress.

Once a professional version is available (by next May), health professionals will be given access to use the document. This will happen in conjunction with the roll out of mobile devices that are being tested for usability, explained Shaw.

Chair of the RCPCH Informatics for Quality Committee, Dr David Low, said clinicians are now dealing with people of a reproductive age who are part of the digital generation and used to doing things online

The core aim of Year Zero was for people to have a personal health record from the moment they are born. Low said it made sense to digitise the Redbook as it is a PHR which is universal and professionally assured.

He said PHRs are a way of engaging people with their health – or the health of people they care for – and if you start early, this could carry on through to adulthood.

“Having it (the Redbook) online with the right information and advice should encourage parents to use it in a much more interactive way and put in more things than they do at the moment,” he said.

Low said it has not been a simple case of taking the paper version and putting it online. A year of work has already gone into the project which will now be tested by parents.

“The first thing is that this has to be something that parents want to use and something that parents can use,” he explained.

The e-Redbook cannot currently link with other systems, but there are plans are for it to integrate with GP and child health systems with testing due to being next year.

“We can see in the future that your PHR will be an amalgamation of the information that an individual has entered plus the information that you have either requested from professionals or has been entered by them,” said Low.

While the college was keen to make the red book more accessible in an electronic form, it was also conscious that it must not disadvantage any patients who do not have access to computers or the Internet.

Low predicted the creation of specialist e-Redbooks for children suffering from particular conditions. He said the standards being created for this digital project are open to anyone to use for development.

The eRedbook is the lead application in an initiative called Year Zero which has attracted funding from the Technology Strategy Board’s Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale programme.

A statement from Sitekit said: “The eRedbook is the lead application in this initiative which is focussed on deploying personal health records at scale.

“The TSB DALLAS iFocus project will also help enable the Sitekit vision by furthering interoperability between statutory systems and devices.”

Microsoft UK director of health and life sciences Mark Smith said: “HealthVault is the ideal basis for a programme like eRedbook, ensuring citizens can access personal information in a secure and easy manner.”