An overwhelming majority of the British public - 85% - want any healthcare professional treating them to have secure electronic access to key data from the GP record, according to new research from YouGov.
The majority of these believe this would:
- Improve patient care (77%)
- Reduce avoidable treatment errors (69%)
- Save patients the frustration of having to repeat information to medical professionals other than their GP (67%).
The public is shocked that A&E doctors in particular do not have automatic access to information on long-term conditions, medication history or allergies, and fear it could lead to mistakes in treatment.
The YouGov poll (1) for EMIS Group has revealed that over half the population (58%) are unaware that hospital doctors are often unable to electronically access information from a patient's GP medical record. Most A&E doctors either have to treat without it, or phone the GP to ask for information to be faxed through.
The poll found that almost two thirds of people (61%) are worried that failing to share vital information about their health with A&E doctors could result in treatment delays or potentially life-threatening medical errors.
Nearly one in three is shocked (30%) that it isn't common practice for patient information to be shared electronically, while 40% are annoyed that A&E doctors may not have all the facts at their fingertips.
The findings come as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt renewed his call for patient records to be shared across the entire health and social care system, to ensure the NHS 'reaches its potential' in providing integrated care to patients.
Chris Spencer, CEO of healthcare information specialist EMIS Group - which looks after the records of 40 million patients in the UK - said: "This survey confirms what we knew anecdotally to be true - that the vast majority of patients want clinicians to have access to their medical records at the point of care, and assume this happens as a matter of course.
"The reality is of course more complicated. Despite efforts to increase use of the Summary Care Record, and wider initiatives by forward-thinking system suppliers and local healthcare providers, data-sharing between clinicians is far from routine.
"Most A&E doctors are still in the position of having to phone the GP or ask for records to be faxed over, and data-sharing beyond urgent care is still under-developed. It's little wonder that people are worried about this - especially when proven systems exist to securely and successfully share patient records."
Nearly one in five people (19%) referred to a medical professional by their GP said they felt the clinician treating them had a poor knowledge of their medical history - five per cent said that mistakes had been made with their treatment for this reason.
Chris Spencer added: "Patients clearly want their records to be shared more effectively between medical professionals treating them. The technology exists to make this happen. Those of us operating across the healthcare landscape have a responsibility to make sure it does."
1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2343 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th - 27th June 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).