Putting GPs’ patient records online will save the NHS £2.1 billion by 2022, according to the Department of Health’s new Information Strategy.
The strategy lays out plan to give all NHS patients "secure online access" to their personal GP records by 2015. According to its impact assessment (.xls), that will save £2.1 billion for the NHS by 2022.
"The significant benefits to GP practices come from modest investments of time to offer support services to those of us who wish to access our own record online, and from offering online access to other services," the strategy claims. "These lead to significant increases in productivity that far outweigh the initial investment."
The strategy says many general practices already have the technical capability to offer online access, but do not use it. "Currently, although over half of general practices use IT systems with the technical capability to provide us with electronic access to our own records, less than 1% offer this service," it says.
Allowing patients to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and communicate with their GPs online will save a further £285 million over that period, the strategy claims.
Online access to GP records will serve the Department of Health’s strategic ambition to effect "a change in culture and mindset, so that our health and care professionals, organisations and systems recognise that the information in each of our own care records is fundamentally about us – and so that it becomes routine for us to be able to access our own records online".
In time, it said, it plans to introduce online access to "letters, test results, personal care plans and needs assessments".
Another component of the DoH’s Information Strategy is to improve interoperability between NHS IT systems by mandate standards. "Joined-up care needs information systems that talk to each other," it says. "This approach, based on nationally set information standards, will enable information to be captured once and shared right across the health and care system."
It calls for greater transparency from the NHS, and for more information to be available to patients.It refers to Information Prescriptions, a service developed in cooperation with Macmillan Cancer Support that provides information to patients tailored to their precise needs.
One of the objectives in developing the strategy has been to bolster the IT industry in the UK, the DoH reveals. It says that its partnership and collaboration with [trade body] Intellect "has informed the development of not just this strategy, but also the implementation plans that will follow".