Home » News » Leading health informatics unit launches landscape review of personal health records activity

Leading health informatics unit launches landscape review of personal health records activity

Today the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP) Health Informatics Unit (HIU) has published an NHS England funded review, looking at the landscape of personal electronic health records in the UK.

Personal health records (PHRs) landscape review

The report, commissioned to inform national strategy, is clear in its recommendations that all individuals should be able to access their own records online.

Providing an in-depth analysis of the functions and services offered by current PHR systems, it also gives consideration to the benefits, pitfalls and challenges associated with implementation.

Several case studies from hospitals, social care and primary care environments where PHRs have already been implemented have also been published to support the review. Each case study provides real life examples of how PHRs have been integrated into the wider healthcare economy.

A personal health record (PHR) is a digital tool enabling individuals to manage and maintain their own healthcare, by capturing and recording their own data, communicating with care services and accessing their healthcare records.

Key findings

  • PHR services are at a relatively early stage in terms of development and implementation.
  • Use of PHRs is currently limited amongst individuals due to lack of accessibility or availability.
  • PHRs provide an innovative opportunity to give individuals ownership over their personal data, however more demonstrable evidence is needed.
  • There is a lack of evidence to support the benefits of implementation, but this is correlated to the limitations associated with short term funding constraints.

Professor Jeremy Wyatt, RCP Health Informatics Unit lead for new technologies said:

Many people want to get more involved in managing their own health, but find it hard to do so without access to their data about their diagnoses, treatments, test results from their record, and information about what these all mean.

Personal Health Records are a tool that can facilitate this, but at present are only available to restricted groups of patients.

The evidence shows that more work is required to develop and improve the user experience, in order to better understand the wide variety of ways that people can use PHRs to support their own health, to increase uptake and usage of PHRs.

However, this review provides key evidence on which the NHS can begin to build a case for investing in these technologies and innovations for the future.

Notes to editors

This report was produced using data collected from PHR suppliers, commissioners and users as well as a literature views focusing on UK based research and supplemented by international studies.

For press enquiries, please contact jessica.smith@rcplondon.ac.uk, CQID communications adviser.

The Health Informatics Unit (HIU)

The HIU team aims to improve patient care by:

  • providing  clinical leadership for the development and implementation of standards for the structure and content of care records to achieve interoperability between computer systems in different care settings
  • advising on and promoting the implementation and use of safe and effective new technologies
  • promoting the professionalisation of clinical informatics and the development of career pathways for those wanting to specialise in this field.

Our work programme encompasses: