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'A qualitative exploration of patients’ experiences, needs and expectations regarding online access to their primary care record'
Background: Primary care records have traditionally served the needs and demands of clinicians rather than those of the patient. In England, General Practices must now promote and offer registered patients online access to their primary care record, and research has shown benefits to both patients and clinicians of doing so. Despite this, we know little about patients’ needs and expectations regarding online access to their health record.
Aims: To explore what patients and carers want from online access to their electronic primary care health record, how they would like to interact with their record, and what support they may need.
Design and setting: A community-based qualitative study of a purposive sample of 54 individuals who were either eligible for the NHS Health Check, living with more than one long-term condition, or caring for someone else.
Method: Focus groups and semi-structured interviews with individuals from a variety of socio-demographic backgrounds were audio recorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically.
Results: Participants views regarding online access were categorised into 4 main themes: awareness, capabilities, consequences, and inevitability. Participants felt online access should be better promoted and suggested a number of additional functions, such as better integration with other parts of the healthcare system. There is a need for additional support and training in using the online record, especially to ensure that health inequalities are not exacerbated.
Conclusion: Interviews with patients and carers about their views of accessing online records have provided useful insights into future directions for online records access.