Patient access to medical records

 

Sir, – OpenNotes is an international movement aimed at improving trust, transparency and communication in healthcare by providing patients with access to their healthcare records. In “Our patients should be allowed to examine their medical notes” (Health, November 2nd), Dr Muiris Houston asks, “Will we ever see an OpenNotes policy in the Republic?”

The national epilepsy electronic patient record (EPR) has been storing digital records for a decade to which an electronic patient access portal (ePortal) has recently been added. The ePortal aims to provide patients with access to, and engage them as co-authors of, their epilepsy care record, tools to support self-management, and promote improved patient-clinician partnerships.

Based at the SFI FutureNeuro Research Centre in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, we are conducting Health Research Board-funded research involving people with epilepsy, families and healthcare practitioners to understand what they value about the ePortal and to plan its implementation into the epilepsy care pathway. Our findings show that patients feel more empowered when they have ePortal access to their epilepsy care record, and while clinicians express some trepidation regarding potential impact on work practices, they also appreciate how it can help improve their understanding of what matters to their patients.

Like Dr Houston, we look forward to the day when all Irish citizens will have the right to access their medical notes on line, but that day might be closer than he suspects. – Yours, etc,

NORMAN DELANTY,

Consultant Neurologist,

Beaumont Hospital,

Dublin 9;

COLIN DOHERTY,

Consultant Neurologist,

St James’s Hospital,

Dublin 8;

MARY FITZSIMONS,

eHealth Research Lead,

SFI FutureNeuro

Research Centre, Dublin 2.