There is a lot of hysteria about electronic health records. Those of us who have worked inside health institutions have no illusions about the safeguards applied to paper records. Paper records are often not available when needed, even in the institution where they are created. And there is almost no system for making records available to other institutions. Any decisions on electronic records need to be put in that context. However imperfect, are likely to be an immense improvement on what exists now.
We would want to see the most comprehensive information kept in electronic record systems. We are alarmed to discover that it is proposed to exclude mental and sexual health, seriously undermining the clinical usefulness of the system. It also contributes to the continuing stigma attached to these areas.
It is important that patients have free access to their own record. That should improve trust between patients and clinicians and encourage both to see healthcare as a joint responsibility.
Computers should made available in GP surgeries and hospitals which could be used by those who do not have access to thier own facilities. Some information in the record may need some sort of interpretation if the patient is to understand it.
Martin Rathfelder, director, Socialist Health Association