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Patients must have control of their medical records

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 21 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5575
  1. Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, founder and chief executive, Patients Know Best, Cambridge CB1 8NR
  1. mohammad{at}

Imagine an elderly patient with heart disease, arthritis, and a history of depression who needs social care at home. These are the patients who generate most of the work and cost in today’s developed world health systems, and usually their care is fragmented. Our hypothetical patient sees two specialist nurses as well as different general practitioners at her local practice. She sees three sets of specialists, two of them at different hospitals, and she is to have a cataract removed at a third hospital. A carer comes every day, and she depends heavily on her three sons who share her care and live in different parts of the country.

Everybody accepts that this patient will have better care, and that costs to the health system will be lower, if her care can be integrated. But how can that be done? Well, one way—and perhaps the only way—is through the patient having electronic records that she controls herself: a personal health record.

A personal health record is different from an electronic patient record in that the patient controls it rather than an institution. The beauty …

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