Access to personal health information

28 June, 2020

Access to one's personal health information is an important facet of HIFA's vision 'access to the information one needs to protect one's health'. Here is why I think it is important...

Patients' reactions to an abundance of information involves a decision to ignore most of it, using the rest and interpreting it using past experience to make as good a judgement as possible about what is going to happen in the future. Access to information by a patient which has been sorted and coded by a trained and specialized doctor reduces uncertainty and increases the judgemental abilities of patients. The doctor's notes can reduce the abundance of information that a patient has to choose from.

This is already happening in some countries. All family doctors in England are contractually required to share the GP record with their patients. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has created guidance for family doctors - What is needed now is for all countries to regulate doctors to share the digital records with the patient and for the regulatory body of the medical education of doctors to include the knowledge, skills and application experience in their standards, guidance and curricula. An example of a current generic professional capabilities framework can be seen on the UK General Medical Council's website:

The GMC guidance does not currently include the skills required to share contemporary records with patients and a group of experts have written to the GMC seeking a meeting to take these suggestions forward.

Richard Fitton

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP, British Medical Association. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT