Fewer than one in ten patients has online access to GP medical records

Minister reveals limited adoption of tech tools

Credit: George Hodan/Public domain

Fewer than one in ten general-practice patients across England are able to access their medical records online, a minister has admitted.

Across the country, a total of about 5.7 million people are currently able to access their records through their GP surgery’s clinical system of choice. This equates to just 9.57% of all registered patients.

These people collectively viewed their records just 1.12 million times during June – equating to one view for every five patients.

The largest provider of GP clinical systems, EMIS, has the best rate of adoption of online patient records. About 11% of all patients whose GP uses an EMIS platform – a total of 3.8 million people – can access their records through the software. The technology was used to view records almost 400,000 times in June.

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The smaller of the market’s two major players, TPP, is able to offer online access to 1.9 million patients. This figure represents 8% of all those who are registered with a surgery that uses the company’s SystmOne clinical IT system. 

Despite the lower penetration rate of web-based records compared with its main rival, TPP accounted for well over half of all online views in June: 713,498.

The two smaller providers of GP systems, Vision and Microtest, offer online records access to 43,000 and 5,000 citizens, respectively. This equates to just 2.9% and 4.2% of all patients registered at surgeries using their technology.

Although the GP landscape is currently consolidated on four suppliers – of which two are dominant – in late 2019 the government introduced a £500m framework designed to diversify the general practice IT landscape. Three new providers of core systems feature on the GP IT Futures procurement vehicle, alongside 50 further new suppliers of additional services.

Although, given that – even before the coronavirus pandemic – some of these new options were not expected to be available to buy until late 2020, it is not yet clear how successful the framework has yet been in achieving its aim of breaking the EMIS and TPP duopoly.

The current limited availability of digital records via GPs using the four incumbent suppliers was revealed by Lord Bethell, minister for innovation at the Department of Health and Social Care, in answering a written parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Allan.

The question pertained to access to records via NHS hospital trusts, but Bethell explained that “records of the systems used by hospital trusts are not collected centrally as this is managed by individual trusts”.


Sam Trendall

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