Online Access to Medical Records

 

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If you wish to, you can now use the internet to book appointments with a GP, request repeat prescriptions for any medications you take regularly and look at your medical record online. You can also still use the telephone or call in to the surgery for any of these services as well. It’s your choice.

Being able to see your record online might help you to manage your medical conditions. It also means that you can even access it from anywhere in the world should you require medical treatment on holiday. If you decide not to join or wish to withdraw, this is your choice and practice staff will continue to treat you in the same way as before. This decision will not affect the quality of your care.

You will be given login details, so you will need to think of a password which is unique to you. This will ensure that only you are able to access your record – unless you choose to share your details with a family member or carer.

The practice has the right to remove online access to services. This is rarely necessary but may be the best option if you do not use them responsibly or if there is evidence that access may be harmful to you. This may occur if someone else is forcing you to give them access to your record or if the record may contain something that may be upsetting or harmful to you. The practice will explain the reason for withdrawing access to you and will re-instate access as quickly as possible.

It will be your responsibility to keep your login details and password safe and secure. If you know or suspect that your record has been accessed by someone that you have not agreed should see it, then you should change your password immediately.

If you can’t do this for some reason, we recommend that you contact the practice so that they can remove online access until you are able to reset your password.

If you print out any information from your record, it is also your responsibility to keep this secure. If you are at all worried about keeping printed copies safe, we recommend that you do not make copies at all.

The information that you can see online may be misleading if you rely on it alone to complete insurance, employment or legal reports or forms.

Be careful that nobody can see your records on screen when you are using Patient Online and be especially careful if you use a public computer to shut down the browser and switch off the computer after you have finished.

 

How can I get access to my GP online record?

You will need to fill in a short form at your GP surgery to let them know that you would like to start using online services. You will also need to prove your identity to your GP surgery. This is so that the surgery can be sure that you are who you say you are. You will need photo ID and proof of address, for example a driving licence and a bank statement. Your surgery will advise you on what ID you need to provide.

Once all the checks have been completed, your surgery will give you a username and a password. If you do not have any ID and are well known to the surgery, a member of staff may be able to confirm your identity. If you are not well known to the surgery, they may ask you questions about the information in your GP record to confirm the record is really yours.

Your surgery can refuse or withdraw access to records if they think it is not in your best interest to use GP online services. If this happens, they will discuss their reasons with you. 

 

How can I make sure no one else can see the information in my GP online record?

Only you, and anyone you give permission to, will be able to see your online record. This can be a family member, a friend or a carer.

When you sign up for GP online services, you will be given a secure username and a password. These details are unique to you and, along with your personal information, will not be shared with anybody else unless you choose to share them. 

 

Where is my information kept?

Your information is kept within the computer system your GP surgery uses. In many cases, older information will be held in paper records. When you use GP online services you will only be able to see the information your surgery holds about you on their computer system. If you wish to see the information in your paper records, your surgery will be able to advise you. 

 

Will my carer be able to see my online record?

If you want your carer to see your GP online record, your surgery will be able to help. You will need to give your surgery permission for your carer to see your GP online records. Ask your surgery what you need to do in order to set this up

 

If I allow another person access to my GP online record, can I choose what they see?

You can ask your GP surgery to allow a family member, friend or carer access to some of your online information. For example, you can select what your chosen person can see such as, only online appointments or just some of the information in your records. 

 

How will you make sure that patients are not forced to share their GP online information?

When you ask your surgery to register you for GP online services they will look at your request and do everything they can to make sure you are choosing online services and that you are not being forced.

If you choose to let another person see your GP online record, your surgery will look at your request and do what they can to check if your chosen person should be allowed to see your GP online record.

 

If I don’t have a computer, tablet or smart phone what will it mean for me?

Online services are an extra option for those who wish to use them and will not replace other ways of contacting your surgery such as by phone or in person.

By freeing up phone lines and reducing the need for people to visit in person, some GP surgeries have found that patients who do not have a computer find it easier and quicker to contact their GP surgery. 

 

Is there any help in getting started on the internet?

There are a number of different services for people who want to use the internet. Many are provided by local authorities, colleges and charities. The best place to start would be your local library.

NHS England is also working with the Tinder Foundation to support people who want to make better use of the health information that is available on the internet. You can find out more here

 

What is the minimum age to start using online services?

While there is no official minimum age limit for using online services, children under the age of 11 would not be given access as they would usually be considered too young to fully understand their records. If a young person aged between 11 and 16 years asks to use online services, the GP will do a test to check if the young person is ready to use these services. This test or assessment is known as Gillick or Fraser competence. Once a young person reaches the age of 16, they are considered able to understand how to use GP online services and will in most cases be given access. If the surgery has any concerns, they will discuss these with the young person. 

 

If my GP only allows me to see some of the information in my GP record, what can I do?

Not all GP surgery computers are ready to allow patients to see all the information in their online records. All computer systems should be ready to allow you to see more information by April 2016

 

Will I understand the results that will be visible to me?

This question cannot be answered in general terms because your blood test results are specific to you. Your GP or the healthcare professional who arranged the test needs to interpret the results because only they have all the information necessary to do so.

Also, only your GP or consultant will know why you needed the blood test and what other tests you’ve had. It may be that all of your test results need to be assessed together.

For example, a full blood count can be used to measure all the different types of blood cells in the sample and diagnose anaemia (lack of red blood cells). However, without also looking at the results of your tests for ferritin (a protein that stores iron), vitamin B12 and folate, it won’t be clear what’s causing your anaemia and therefore what treatment you need.

Your GP will file the result to your record with some text to summarise their assessment of the result.

Some results fall out of the “normal” range. Your GP will advise whether this result is normal for you or if he would like to discuss the result further or if s/he would like you to repeat the test.

If your GP has suggested that “no action” is required, please trust that your GP is happy with this result.

Before you apply for online access to your record, there are some other things to consider. Although the chances of any of these things happening are very small, you will be asked that you have read and understood the following before you are given login details.

 

Forgotten history

There may be something you have forgotten about in your record that you might find upsetting.

 

Abnormal results or bad news

If your GP has given you access to test results or letters, you may see something that you find upsetting. This may occur before you have spoken to your doctor or while the surgery is closed and you cannot contact them. If this happens please contact your surgery as soon as possible. The practice may set your record so that certain details are not displayed online. For example, they may do this with test results that you might find worrying until they have had an opportunity to discuss the information with you.

 

Choosing to share your information with someone

It’s up to you whether or not you share your information with others – perhaps family members or carers. It’s your choice, but also your responsibility to keep the information safe and secure. If it would be helpful to you, you can ask the practice to provide another set of login details to your online services for another person to act on your behalf. They would be able to book appointments or order repeat prescriptions. They may be able to see your record to help with your healthcare if you wish. Tell your practice what access you would like them to have. 

 

Coercion

If you think you may be pressured into revealing details from your patient record to someone else against your will, it is best that you do not register for access at this time. 

 

Misunderstood information

Your medical record is designed to be used by clinical professionals to ensure that you receive the best possible care. Some of the information within your medical record may be highly technical, written by specialists and not easily understood. If you require further clarification, please contact the surgery for a clearer explanation.

 

Information about someone else

If you spot something in the record that is not about you or notice any other errors, please log out of the system immediately and contact the practice as soon as possible.

 

More information

For more information about keeping your healthcare records safe and secure, you will find a helpful leaflet produced by the NHS in conjunction with the British Computer Society:

COMMON ABBREVIATIONS FOUND IN MEDICAL RECORDS