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GP surgeries preparing to offer online consultations

13 November 2008

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Patients will soon be able to contact GPs with health queries via email as part of a drive to improve access to health care, it has been reported.

HealthSpace, in the news over the summer for offering patients the chance to view personal medical records online, is launching a “communicator” tool that will allow indirect consultations with doctors.

The service, which will be piloted in April 2009, is expected to be of particular use in the management of patients with long-term conditions.

Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director for the Summary Care Record and HealthSpace, told the Pulse website: “For GPs, there is a lot of potential benefit. They might want to do QOF work by email, rather than bringing patients in. So for an asthma medication review, you’ve got a secure online environment if there are a few questions you want to ask.”

But concerns have been raised about emails indicating potentially life-threatening conditions being missed, and the legal implications that would follow.

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of communications at the Medical Protection Society, told Pulse the service should only be used in cases where other information was also on hand.

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