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Final death knell for HealthSpace

22 May 2012   Lyn Whitfield

The NHS’ own health organiser, HealthSpace, has been confirmed as an unlikely casualty of the NHS information strategy, published earlier this week.

In a speech today, Dr Charles Gutteridge, the national clinical director for informatics at the Department of Health, confirmed that HealthSpace would cease to exist in the next 12 months.

Even though the strategy makes giving patients access to their records a key part of its vision for improving access to information, and HealthSpace was developed to give patients access to their Summary Care Record, Dr Gutteridge said he could not make the technology work.

“It is too difficult to make an account. It is too difficult to log on. It is just too difficult,” he told the Westminster Forum event.

“I don’t think I’m hiding anything if I say to you that we will not continue with HealthSpace. We will close it down over the next year or so.”

HealthSpace was originally developed by NHS Connecting for Health as an online organiser. The last, Labour government gave the go-ahead for it to become the route for patients to access their SCRs in 2007.

CfH subsequently put together an ambitious business case to expand the service to 4m users and to enhance its functionality to include a 'Facebook-style communicator' that patients could use to contact clinicians.

However, the plans were apparently shelved in summer 2009 after a review by the Treasury, even though reports that the service might be revived have surfaced periodically.

HealthSpace merited just a single mention in the ‘Power of Information’ strategy, in a paragraph saying that the best elements of the service would be incorporated into a new, national portal for patients.

The strategy says this portal will also incorporate elements of NHS Choices, NHS Direct online, and NHS 111 online, and be the main way for patients to contact the national NHS after NHS 111 and 999.

Unlike NHS Choices, however, it seems unlikely to host patient comments about services, since another part of the strategy says that the government wants to see third parties take over this role.

Dr Gutteridge told the Westminster forum that the DH needed to create a new portal through which patients could view their SCRs.

The information strategy does not mention the SCR. It says that patients will be able to see their GP records online by 2015, and that the government has an ambition to give them access to other health records over time.


Related Articles:

3 News: Working group to consider SCR add-ons | 17 November 2011
3 News: Gutteridge calls for 50m SCRs | 13 May 2011
13 News: HealthSpace expansion plans shelved | 16 June 2009
1 News: Patients to get Facebook-style Communicator | 18 November 2008
Last updated: 22 May 2012 18:11

© 2012 EHealth Media.


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I have my own online health record.

davesandbach 125 weeks ago

By opening a Health Vault account I have put together a health record which has my GP (EMIS) record, my hospital records, my dental records and my ophthalmic records, plus data I collect on a daily or weekly basis e.g. BP, Blood sugars, weight etc.

I also have my advanced directive and decision making resources in the same set of files.

I now feel safe in the event that I need treatment from the NHS where ever I happen to be in the country. NHS information strategy implemented as far as chapter two of the strategy is concerned. well in advance of 2015 target date set out in the document.

Former NHS CEO.


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Astonishing

CanUseeTheLight 125 weeks ago

Back in the old days, before CfH NPfIT and the consultant feeding frenzy IT projects use go through a process which started with a feasibility study. It seems that in this case it was never done and if it was, it was probably ignored or the focus was in the wrong place i.e. we can build it but will anybody want it. The E2.0 boom / bandwagon was jumped on as the consultant feeding frenzy began (maybe consultants should be held accountable for their advice? They are after all being paid for failures %u213 sound familiar?). How many members of the public have ever requested their medical records. I am an informed user, I have worked in the NHS from both a clinical and IT perspective and I have never even thought of asking about my medical records, I have no need to nor desire to in normal day to day life. In the event of an issue that might change but the mechanisms already exist to facilitate that request, I certainly would not it available online.


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I beg to differ

paul_smith 125 weeks ago

I also have no interest in my "medical records". I would however like to know the last time I had a tetanus injection, the last time my son went into hospital with an asthma attack, the last time I hurt my back playing football etc etc, all of which I seem to be asked again and again (particularly with the kids). And often by non-NHS people (eg schools, clubs, private treatment). Surely it is perfectly reasonable for me to be able to look up this information (and be sure that is reliable)? It's a bit like car insurance -- how on earth can I remember the date of an accident and its value from 3 years ago, surely the insurance company has a record?

I don't necessarily care about the internal workings of the NHS .. but it is very helpful to be able to see the history. Let's start thinking about what its like from the patient perspective - after all that's way that the doctor thinks.


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It is my health record

paul_smith 125 weeks ago

My health record isn't the same as my GP record, nor even my NHS record as it needs to take into account my fitness, my diet, my own self-measurement, my use of private healthcare etc etc. The only person (or agent, in some cases) who can integrate all of that is me. So please NHS informaticians, stop hoarding data and start sharing it with me (and yes, I know that has some challenges!).


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Daft idea

Guildfoss 125 weeks ago

Health info is too explosive for it to be serves up on a government system. Tax and benefits info is fine: the government has a vested interest to get this data right, but health data . . . please - it has to be the patient that controls this in whatever system that fits their outlook and condition.


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