Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed that 25% of smartphone users will be accessing their NHS records on an app by 2017.
Hunt made the announcement at the Manchester-based NHS Innovation Expo last week, where he also revealed that by 2016, every patient should have access to their whole medical record online.
By 2018, the Health Secretary expects that this record will also include all information from all health and care providers, as well as the inclusion of read and write access.
“Powerful patients need to know about the quality of healthcare being provided, but they also need to be able to harness the many innovations now becoming possible,” claimed Hunt.
“To most of us it feels like there has been more change in the way we book taxis, shop, bank or store photos than the way we access healthcare. Yet for every single one of us healthcare is the more important than all of those things.
“Experience from other countries suggests that opening up access to your own medical records leads to a profound change in the culture in a way that is transformative for people with complex or long term conditions,” he added.
According to the Health Secretary, by challenging the NHS to make better use of technology but also ensuring that data remains safe at all times, patients can become empowered to manage their own healthcare needs.
Around 84% of the UK population uses the Internet, 59% use a smartphone and yet just 2% has had a digital interaction with the NHS.
If the NHS is able to successfully bring 25% of smartphone users an app where they can access their medical records and NHS advice and services, this will account for 15% of all NHS patients.
However, as use of technology within the healthcare sector increases, so do concerns about privacy and security.
“Shoving highly sensitive information to patients via smartphones won’t help doctors treat them in 2016,” claimed Phil Booth, member of medical privacy campaigning group medConfidential.
“It could expose the vulnerable to stalking, abuse and coercion – not to mention predatory companies who can’t wait to get their hands on such valuable data,” he added.
However, Hunt did approach the subject of security in his NHS Innovation Expo Speech.
“We will throw away these opportunities if the public do not believe they can trust us to look after their personal medical data securely,” the Health Secretary claimed.
“The NHS has not yet won the public’s trust in an area that is vital for the future of patient care. Nothing matters more to us than our health, and people rightly say we must be able to assure the security of confidential medical information,” he added.
Measures the government will be introducing to protect medical data includes a review of data security standards in the healthcare sector.