The personal approach to health takes many forms one of which is access to ones own healthcare records. The idea of holding ones own records is not new and will become
One area of healthcare that has not been addressed as far as personal healthcare is concerned but has actually been delivering it for some years is optometry (sight testing). Many opticians now take photographs of patients eyes to keep for future reference (and for potential medicolegal use if eye disease is thought to have been missed). These photographs are stored onsite at the optometrists practice meaning that although the patient has paid for the image they do not have access to it - unless they actually go to the practice. It also means that the practitioner’s are holding an increasingly large number of images.
A solution is to have the optometrists email/upload the retinal image to the patient after it has been taken. The patient can then upload this image to the personal record area of the NHS Healthspace system. An app would be developed that would allow this image to be viewed directly from any computer or smartphone. The scenario would be that the patient could then show their eyecare practitioner (e.g. optometrist, ophthalmologists, diabetes screener) a previous image of their retina for them to compare with the current state of their eye.
Patients will have therefore have permanent access to their images immediately after they are taken and will be able to have complete control over who accesses these pictures. As they are holding their own records there will be no issues of confidentiality and best of all, no matter where they live or how much time has passed there will always be an image of their eyes for any practitioner to use as a comparison in the future. This can be vital with many eye diseases such as glaucoma and diabetes in which progression and change are vital to detect.
The current system means that the optometrists holds these records without any need for
security and with only implicit confidentiality. If the optometrists goes out of business or
simply runs out of space on the camera these potentially valuable images could be lost
forever. This app allows patients to reclaim there own images, to show them to who they want to and most importantly for practitioners, there is an ability to monitor change (or not) in an eye using these earlier images. For little expense and as the years go by, a highly valuable record of each patients retina will be built up - creating a unique and
increasingly valuable resource. This is an ideal example of the patient being in control but using this control to help their healthcare providers and therefore helping themselves.