• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. Jan 2004; 54(498): 38–43.
PMCID: PMC1314776

Patients' experiences when accessing their on-line electronic patient records in primary care.


BACKGROUND: Patient access to on-line primary care electronic patient records is being developed nationally. Knowledge of what happens when patients access their electronic records is poor. AIM: To enable 100 patients to access their electronic records for the first time to elicit patients' views and to understand their requirements. DESIGN OF STUDY: In-depth interviews using semi-structured questionnaires as patients accessed their electronic records, plus a series of focus groups. SETTING: Secure facilities for patients to view their primary care records privately. METHOD: One hundred patients from a randomised group viewed their on-line electronic records for the first time. The questionnaire and focus groups addressed patients' views on the following topics: ease of use; confidentiality and security; consent to access; accuracy; printing records; expectations regarding content; exploitation of electronic records; receiving new information and bad news. RESULTS: Most patients found the computer technology used acceptable. The majority found viewing their record useful and understood most of the content, although medical terms and abbreviations required explanation. Patients were concerned about security and confidentiality, including potential exploitation of records. They wanted the facility to give informed consent regarding access and use of data. Many found errors, although most were not medically significant. Many expected more detail and more information. Patients wanted to add personal information. CONCLUSION: Patients have strong views on what they find acceptable regarding access to electronic records. Working in partnership with patients to develop systems is essential to their success. Further work is required to address legal and ethical issues of electronic records and to evaluate their impact on patients, health professionals and service provision.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (40K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Liaw T, Lawrence M, Rendell J. The effect of a computer-generated patient-held medical record summary and/or a written personal health record on patients' attitudes, knowledge and behaviour concerning health promotion. Fam Pract. 1996 Jun;13(3):289–293. [PubMed]
  • Drury M, Yudkin P, Harcourt J, Fitzpatrick R, Jones L, Alcock C, Minton M. Patients with cancer holding their own records: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Gen Pract. 2000 Feb;50(451):105–110. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Liaw ST, Radford AJ, Maddocks I. The impact of a computer generated patient held health record. Aust Fam Physician. 1998 Jan;27 (Suppl 1):S39–S43. [PubMed]
  • Jones RB, McGhee SM, McGhee D. Patient on-line access to medical records in general practice. Health Bull (Edinb) 1992 Mar;50(2):143–150. [PubMed]
  • Aylward GW, Parmar DN. Information technology in ophthalmology-experience with an electronic patient record. Br J Ophthalmol. 1999 Nov;83(11):1264–1267. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wager KA, Lee FW, White AW, Ward DM, Ornstein SM. Impact of an electronic medical record system on community-based primary care practices. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2000 Sep-Oct;13(5):338–348. [PubMed]
  • Laerum H, Ellingsen G, Faxvaag A. Doctors' use of electronic medical records systems in hospitals: cross sectional survey. BMJ. 2001 Dec 8;323(7325):1344–1348. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hassey A, Gerrett D, Wilson A. A survey of validity and utility of electronic patient records in a general practice. BMJ. 2001 Jun 9;322(7299):1401–1405. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Homer CS, Davis GK, Everitt LS. The introduction of a woman-held record into a hospital antenatal clinic: the bring your own records study. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1999 Feb;39(1):54–57. [PubMed]
  • Fisher B, Britten N. Patient access to records: expectations of hospital doctors and experiences of cancer patients. Br J Gen Pract. 1993 Feb;43(367):52–56. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    PubMed Central articles cited in books
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles