Public health officials in the United Kingdom have announced a new initiative designed to make it possible for patients to go online to access their health data -- including their electronic health records and test results -- by 2015, the Daily Mail reports (Owen, Daily Mail, 5/19).
U.K. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the initiative would allow patients to access their EHRs and test results via computer, tablet computer or smartphone (United Press International, 5/20).
Lansley said that the initiative aims to help empower patients by providing them with more information about their medical care (Ross, London Telegraph, 5/20).
Online Appointment Scheduling
The initiative also aims to enable patients to book physician appointments online by 2015.
Lansley said that some doctor's offices already offer patients the option of scheduling appointments online, but doctor's offices that do not offer such online services by 2015 will be "named and shamed" on a government website.
He said the move is part of an effort to streamline the appointment-making process and end the "8 a.m. rush" to stand in line or make a phone call to schedule a doctor's appointment for later in the day (United Press International, 5/20).
Reactions To Initiative
Critics of the new initiative said that the move could put certain patients at a disadvantage, such as patients who do not own computers or elderly patients who might be less familiar with technology.
In addition, some health care providers said that the new initiative raises privacy and security concerns.
Laurence Buckman -- chair of the British Medical Association's General Practitioner's Committee -- said, "[P]atients should have access to their health records but we'd want to be satisfied that their records would remain secure before this was implemented" (BBC News, 5/21).