Patients have 'mixed views' on electronic health records

By Sam Collins
12:00 AM

Two-thirds of patients are happy for their medical records to be stored electronically, but many patients still have concerns about security and confidentiality, according to a snapshot survey carried out in a UK community mental health setting.

Psychiatrists Sulagna Chakrabarti, Claire Dinnis and Samina Matin surveyed 90 patients attending a community mental health team setting. They presented their findings at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Annual Meeting in Liverpool.

England is in the process of developing an electronic records system called the NHS Care Records Service (NHS CRS). The aim is to provide more efficient and safer care for patients. This system will eventually replace paper records and is based on an assumption of consent to them being electronically held.

The NHS Code of Practice requires that all patients must be made aware that the information they give may be recorded; may be shared to provide them with care; and may be used to support local clinical audit and other work to monitor the quality of care provided.

RiO is a computerized system for sharing electronic healthcare records. It is important to ensure all service users are well informed about its use. This audit was carried out to test that this was being carried out effectively.

The researchers found the majority of patients surveyed were aware that their medical records were now being stored electronically. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of the patients said they were happy for their records to be stored this way, and thought the computer technology was acceptable.

However, they did express concerns about security, confidentiality and the potential exploitation of their records.

"Patients have strong views with regards to consent and what they find acceptable," the researchers said. "More work is required to address legal and ethical issues of electronic health records, and to evaluate their impact on patients, health professionals and service provision."

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