Patients not convinced new computer record system will be secure

Members of the public recognise the value of the Government’s plans for their health records to be centrally held on a computer, but many are still seriously concerned about the security of the new system, according to a public opinion poll published today (29/6/05) by the British Medical Association.

The BMA survey was conducted by YouGov via their online Omnibus survey between 21-24 June. 1,993 adults in Great Britain were questioned to find out their views on the new electronic health record system, which is currently being developed by NHS Connecting for Health.

Three out of four patients would not mind their health information being held on a central computer system and a similar number (69%) would not have a problem with this information being shared and seen by relevant individuals involved in their care. However, three-quarters of respondents said they had concerns about the security of information and 81% were worried about accessibility by people other than the healthcare professionals providing their care.

Other key results in the poll were:

  • 77% of respondents believe that health information should only be held on a centrally held computer system if they are explicitly asked for consent first
  • 61% said they would like to be able to put information into their own record
  • 93% said it is important that the general public is fully consulted about the proposals before they are finalised

Barbara Wood, co-chair of BMA’s Patient Liaison Group said: “Patients recognise the value of having their health record held centrally but are concerned about who will have access to it, and for what purposes. They are generally happy for their doctor or another health professional involved in their care to have access to their health record but they do have worries about non-clinicians having access.”

“Patients do want to be able to put information into their own record themselves and have the opportunity to correct what is wrong. They have some concerns about the existence of a patient’s ‘envelope’ as a private space in which they can store sensitive information but are much more worried about the doctor also being able to record information which is not accessible to them.

“Patient groups must be consulted in a meaningful way about the project as it develops if it is to stand any chance of being accepted by the public.”


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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