Empowering patients to become the agents of their own care - Access to personal medical records in childhood

15 June, 2023

When I was the tutor for tbe GP (family doctor) trainees during their hospital attachments in Manchester, I was lucky enough, occasionally, to be able to invite different consultants to give tutorials to the trainees.

One consultant, a professor of diabetes, discussed "brittle diabetes". This was a concept in the 1980's which may not exist any more

"Brittle diabetics" were usually teenagers whose diabetes seemed difficult or impossible to control.

The professor said "I don't think that this is a different type of diabetes. I think it is a different type of patient behaviour. Patients with brittle diabetes are externally controlled personalities - they want some one else to sort out the problem and not to have to think about ordeal with tbe problem themselves."

"The other type of patient, who is less likely to have brittle diabetes, is internally controlled- ie they want to, and do, become the agents of their own care."

It is a culture change that happens or does not happen and children grow up.

Giving patients the tools to manage their own health, giving them access to the service provider records about them, and educating and supporting them through the many stages of life aids that change of culture.

We are planning to survey 40 year 7 and year 8 students today on this very subject.

These are the questions which we will analyse the answers of:

1. How old are you?  11 years old  12 years old  13 years old

2. Do you want to be able to read your health records online?  Yes  No

3. Do you want your parents to be able to read your health records online today?  Yes  No  Don’t know

4. Until what age do you think your parents should be able to read your health records online? Age 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

5. At what age do you want to start reading your health records online? Age 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

6. Would you feel comfortable sharing your online personal health information with friends or others?  Yes  No

7. You are a…?  Boy  Girl  Don’t know/don’t want to state  Other, specify: _________

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP. 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 gmail.com