GPs are “skeptical” about allowing patients to view their own medical records online because it could “worry them more”.
Family doctors fear that patients will find the records “more confusing than helpful.”
An international team of researchers, including those from the universities of Plymouth, Manchester and Bristol, examined the impact of giving patients full access to their GP records.
All GP surgeries must provide patients in England with online access to new information when it is added to their record. This includes all test results and any details of prescribed medications.
Older information, such as immunization records, may be hidden, but is available upon request.
Patients can view their records using the NHS app or by logging into their account on the NHS website.
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But the researchers said there is “limited knowledge about doctors’ views in the UK about patients’ access to their online medical records.”
They surveyed 400 GPs across England and found that only a third (33 per cent) thought it was a good idea.
Nine in 10 (91 percent) believed such access would make patients “care more,” while 85 percent believed their patients might find the records “more confusing than helpful.”
The authors of the study, led by academics from Uppsala University in Sweden and Harvard Medical School in the United States, said most GPs “believed the practice would exacerbate workload” after the 60 percent said most patients would find significant errors in their records. , and 89 percent said the initiative would require time to address patients’ questions about their records.
The majority (81 percent) said consultations are already taking longer than before, or will do so.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they would be “less candid” in their documentation as a result of the changes.
About 62 percent said they believed online access would “increase their litigation.”
But seven in 10 (70 per cent) GPs said giving patients access would help them feel more in control of their care, while 60 per cent said such a move would help patients remember their care plan. attention.
“Physicians in our sample were skeptical of ORA (online record access), believing that patients would worry more and find their records more confusing than useful,” the authors wrote.
‘Most GPs also believed the practice would exacerbate workload.
“However, the majority of GPs in this survey also agreed that patients having online access to their primary care medical records had multiple benefits.”
Data published in December showed that 81 per cent of GPs in England gave patients access to their records online.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, president of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We want our patients to be more involved and interested in their care, and for this reason the college has always supported giving people online access to their medical records. “.
‘Evidence shows that this has benefits for patients, such as giving them greater control of their health and helping them remember care plans, aspects recognized by the majority of GPs surveyed in this research.
“However, the concerns raised by respondents are valid and should be acknowledged and managed carefully.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “As most GPs surveyed for this study agree, these changes will bring significant benefits to patients, who will feel more in control and in every detail of their care, with more than 24 million of people who can now see test results and consult consultations. notes and request repeat prescriptions through the NHS app, something at least 3.1 million people do every month.
Previous work by the health body found that early adopters of the initiative “did not see a notable increase in workload” and some GPs reported reduced workload due to fewer data access requests and fewer calls from patients requesting results. of tests.