Joint access to medical data ‘key to better health care’

Scotlands  life expectancy performance failed to improve, the report found. Picture: Stock photo/ Getty
Scotlands life expectancy performance failed to improve, the report found. Picture: Stock photo/ Getty
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A group of top primary care health professionals has come together to urge the Scottish Government to implement their digital strategy ahead of key talks next week.

The Primary Care Vision Group, which includes leaders of GPs, nurses and pharmacists, representing more than 60,000 clinicians, says joint access to patients’ core medical records is the key to improving health care.

The group, which first met last year, has presented the Scottish Government with 21 principles as a vision for primary care and has outlined its digital strategy, with increased use of technology at the heart.

Problems that present barriers to a multidisciplinary approach to health care include pharmacists not having access to speech and language therapists’ records, which can lead to prescribing tablets for patients who have difficulties eating, drinking and swallowing.

Other examples include health visitor records of visits to new babies and families not being included in GP records and physiotherapists prescribing antibiotics and other medicines in the community without other health professionals being aware, leading to the overuse of certain drugs.

The Scottish Government announced last October that £500 million would be invested in primary care by the end of the parliament. Its 2020 vision aims to deliver integrated health and social care with the emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach in local communities.

Dr Miles Mack, chair of the Scottish council of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said it was vital a clear definition of primary care was agreed by the group.

He said: “We were aware that the primary care heading was being used in a number of ways which were quite difficult to be clear about what it was, whether it was just an expansion of general practice or the other extreme, most health and social care.

“We thought it was going to be essential that as primary care professionals we came together to give a clear definition of that.

“That led to the document with the 21 principles which we managed to build up from our initial starting point and it’s been an extremely productive process.”

He added: “Where we do have a shared agenda we can present that to the Scottish Government.”

The core access would only include key details of the patient’s health records such as what medication they are currently on.

The group says that read and write access to the relevant information in patient records would enable better informed and safer decisions to be made by practitioners and patients.