Intended for healthcare professionals


Sharing patient information electronically throughout the NHS

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 17 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:114
  1. Nick Booth, principal clinical research associate (
  1. School of Population and Health Sciences, Centre for Health Services Research, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AA

    Time for all clinicians to get involved

    The UK government's NHS modernisation process is driven by highly visible promises to improve the standards and equity of heath care in the United Kingdom.1 The government hopes that the systematisation of health care can bring about revolutionary and cost effective changes in the ways we deliver care and has promised new electronic systems to enable us to monitor the quality, effectiveness, and equity of health interventions, in more open, evidence based, and person centred ways. In particular, the NHS in England has £2.3bn ($3.75bn; €3.31bn) to spend between now and 2005 on an integrated care record service. At the heart of this service is a health information spine, where patient summary information will be published for use by all NHS staff involved in the care of individuals.2 Yet few clinicians have played any part in planning the spine. Populating it with appropriate and accurate clinical data will not be straightforward.

    So what advantages will the information spine bring? Ready access to all information about medical and surgical history, allergies and sensitivities, current medication, and recent investigations would …

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