On 14th February, Radio 4 Med Matters program discussed a really interesting topic . . . patient medical information and its dissemination and use. Listen to the program here.
Describing an all-too common experience of difficulties in receiving care in A&E and from non-specialists, a possible solution was raised. The web-based patient information portal, Patients Know Best. An NHS system, Summary Care Records, are based on a similar idea - doctors in emergencies/out-of-hours clinics need to know important medical information about patients. This is of particular importance in two patient groups discussed on the program; complex paediatric cases which are under care of GOSH clinicians, and elderly patients with dementia. Some reports show this information is used in over 1 in 5 consultations by out-of-hours GPs.
The Patients Know Best system can empower patients - giving them control of the processes and treatments affecting them. This could be enormously valuable for patients with long-term conditions (the very people it was designed to help!), but its success depends on the participation of the clinicians involved in the care!