You doing anything on January 19th? In London? If not you might want to go along to the Wellcome Collection in Euston Road between 11 and 3pm to find out about the latest NHS initiative that not only allows you to access all of your own personal health records on line, but to be actively involved in their creation.
After the multi-billion pound IT fiasco some years ago which totally failed in its aim to digistise all patient records, the NHS has been gradually creeping down the digital path in a much more localised (and therefore appropriate and more efficient) manner over the last five years.
Many of you may already re-order prescriptions, make appointments and see tests results on line. Depending on where you live, some of you may even be able to access your own medical records on line – really useful for reminding yourself of exactly what was said at a consultation, printing off information to take to a consultation, checking to see whether that promised referral has been made or accessing your medical history if you are taken ill abroad. This could be positively life-saving if you are allergic and either suffer a reaction or need to alert the medics treating you to a drug, glucose, latex etc allergy.
However, London Connect has gone a step further by creating what they call Personal Health Records. These are on-line accounts which you set up and manage yourself, into which you can import all of your medical records, but to which you can also add your own information, either for your own or for your medic’s benefit. All of those vital snippets that you rarely get the opportunity to pass on during a consultation but which are so important in building up a comprehensive picture of your condition.
So far, the main users have been kidney patients, young diabetics (both groups find it invaluable for monitoring their conditions and collaborating with the clinicians looking after them) and mental health patients in an interesting initiative set up in Lambeth.
But think how useful it would be for those with allergies, especially for children with allergies when sensitivities can change so fast. You could use it to keep food (or pollen etc) diaries, to track your reactions, to track your reactions to treatments (immunotherapy, anti histamines etc), to ask questions, to suggest/discuss therapies or interventions, to review your progress (in either direction) both on your own and with your doctor or consultant. And, since it is your own personal record, you can also share it with fellow sufferers to see if you can learn from each other’s experiences – creating your own mini support group. And how useful would it be if you were trying to create a support group and a body of knowledge about a particular aspect of allergy or intolerance….
Anyhow, ’nuff said by me.
If you are free and in London on the 19th, pop along to the Franks and Stead Room at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE between 11am and 3pm where London Connect will be demonstrating exactly how the system works. (While you are there you could treat yourself to a visit the museum itself – ‘a cross-section of extraordinary objects from Henry Wellcome’s personal collection, ranging from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon’s toothbrush to George III’s hair….’)
If you are not going to be in London but are still interested in the Personal Health Record project – do ask your GP. The government has set a target that all people should have access to their records online by 2015 so all GPs have an obligation to start thinking about this at some point. The guys who are organising the presentation on the 19th will soon be launching a web site to give you tips on how best to harrass your GP into getting a system up and running – watch this space and I’ll report when I hear it has gone live.