GPs to Get Access to Medical Records out of Hours

Article excerpt

ALL GPs providing out-of-hours medical cover will have access to patients' records electronically from this year.

The Welsh Assembly Government has approved initial plans to begin to roll out the Individual Health Record (IHR) across Wales.

The pounds 4.7m scheme, run by Informing Healthcare, will allow doctors to access vital electronic information about patients who contact their out-of-hours service for help.

The IHR has already been extensively tested by the Gwent out-of-hours service and is now being piloted in the medical assessment unit at the Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport.

Under the plans approved yesterday it will be rolled out to each ofWales' out-of-hours services in 2009-10.

It could eventually be extended to allow nurses and pharmacists to view sections of a patient's medical record, with their approval.

The IHR contains details about the patient, their current medication and medical history, allergies, test results and vaccinations.

It also details test results and any referrals to hospital or operations.

It does not include any details about a patient's social history, weight, alcohol use or contraception.

An evaluation of the Gwent pilot found that clinicians found that access to the IHR helped them make informed decisions about how to treat their patient.

A spokesman for the Gwent out-of-hours service said: "The pilot scheme in Gwent has proved a great success with virtually all GPs in the trust area becoming involved.

"This has meant that nearly all patients who contact the service for medical advice know that they can agree for the very latest information held by their family doctor to be accessed to help the diagnosis.

"The result is that advice, help and support can be far better targeted than it has even been for patients and delays in trying to discover vital medical information is kept to an absolute minimum."

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "Currently staff spend a lot of time taking medical histories and if they are in doubt about the course of treatment, patients are more likely to be admitted for further investigation. …