Another change is coming, another testing time for general practice. By April 2020, patients are to be given online access to their complete health care records – that’s seven months from now! Whilst in the first instance this will undoubtedly increase the pressure across the sector and create additional workload for practice teams, could it actually lead to a reduction in workload in the future?
By having their full health care records available, patients may not need to visit the practice or need a telephone/face to face appointment to discuss test results for example. Maybe I am being too optimistic? The sceptic in me would counter this argument by suggesting that it could in fact increase workload as, having read their health records, patients may then begin to question the information contained therein.
As the digital transformation continues and practices are forced to adopt a digital by default approach to accessing records, this change will give patients the capability to add their own information. Some may argue it’s about time too, others may be worried about data security and confidentiality. However, given that when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced free subject access requests there was a subsequent surge in SARs, a digital by default approach may see a significant reduction in SARs. Instead, patients will have full access at the touch of a button or the click of a mouse! £20m has been added to the global sum to help practices to deal with the aforementioned surge in subject access requests. This funding will remain available until a digitalised solution is in place and practices are no longer burdened with processing SARs.
Funding will be of concern to most practices – who will fund this transformational change, how will it be managed, where will the additional workforce come from to enable records to be digitalised? Resources are inevitably required and they will come at a cost. Who pays for this service, will it be the CCG? Well, you’d like to think they would either provide the funding or the resources to enable practices to meet this digital obligation.
Looking at this change from another perspective, we are taking a huge step towards becoming paperless and bidding a fond farewell to the iconic Lloyd George envelope, a document that has been in general practice since its conception in 1911. Where they will go, nobody knows but, one thing is for sure, when they do go, you’ll have a lot of free space in your practice!
Time for another change – but this time, you decide what’s changing, what will you do with all that free space?