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Patient access to electronic health records

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

As of April 5, the 21st Century Cures Act prevents electronic health record (eHR) providers from blocking information in the USA (more). Information blocking affects both healthcare professionals (HCP) and their patients, and can take a number of different forms:

· Restrictions and limitations on HCP’s use and exchange of medical information

· Excessive fees to create eHR links to health IT systems

· Technical setups that block access, exchange or use of medical information

These changes will mean that patients are able to access their complete electronic health information at no cost.

Google is taking this opportunity to better understand how people interact with information extracted from their medical records (more). A pilot study of 300 Android users in 3 US states represents a renewed focus on medical records for Google after the prior launch and closure of Google Health in 2008-12.

In the UK, the NHS App (not to be confused with the NHS COVID-19 App) is providing patients with a range of different services through their smartphone such as the ability to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and to view their Summary Care Record, all in a secure environment (more). GP surgeries may also provide more detailed access to enable patients to see details of individual consultations, diagnoses, lab tests and treatments. The NHS App was first rolled out across England in December 2018, and by January 2020 there were 200,000 registered users with the ability to sign in using touch/facial recognition.

NHSX, NHS Digital and NHS England have developed an NHS App dashboard. Anyone with an NHS email address is able to use the dashboard to see how many patients are currently using the NHS App, and what features they are using. This is intended to support decision making at multiple levels throughout the NHS.

Figure 4.1 – Screenshots from NHS App dashboard

Source: NHS App

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