Just 18% of doctors want patients to have full access to medical records, says survey

One in five GPs do not have high speed internet access

Fewer than one doctor in five believes that their patients should have full access to their medical records, a new survey reveals.

The Accenture Ireland survey of doctors and consultants in Ireland was commissioned to ascertain how far the medical profession has embraced digital technology in their surgeries.

It found a general unwillingness among doctors to give their patients access to their records, a pattern also repeated in the eight other countries surveyed by Accenture – Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the US.

Just 18 per cent of Irish doctors were in favour of full access, 61 per cent limited access and 19 per cent wanted no access at all.


Accenture Ireland head of health Pat Power said several international health systems had found the benefits outweighed the risks in allowing patients open access to the medical records "and we expect this trend to continue".

The poll was carried out by Millward Brown on behalf of Accenture Ireland and involved 248 doctors and consultants, of whom 23 were in Northern Ireland. It revealed a patchy record among doctors of the use of electronic medical records (EMR).

One in five GPs do not have high speed internet access and a similar number did not have access to EMR, with over half of those being consultants.

Some 69 per cent of doctors do not currently have the facility to communicate electronically with patients (for example, via secure email) to support remote consultation and diagnostics.

Nevertheless, two-thirds of doctors agree that electronic health records are integral to effective patient care today, while over half (55 per cent) agree they will become integral to effective patient care in the next two years.

Mr Power said it was clear that Irish doctors saw the benefits of healthcare information technology but many were slow to apply it.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times