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New system puts patients in control of their records

The Red House Group of Surgeries has pioneered a new, portable record system that meets National Health Service ambitions to enable patients to have control of their own health records.

The group, with three surgeries in the Radlett area, introduced Health eCard, an innovative credit card-size record card which is initiated by the Practice and carried by the patient. Encrypted for data security, the content can be accessed by any medical practitioner, hospital or pharmacist anywhere in the world.

Developed by a London company of the same name, Health eCard provides benefits to patients, general practitioners and Primary Care Trusts. Health eCard director, Jul Kornbluth, said: "Patients with access to their medical records are empowered and are able to make informed decisions. Importantly, they can take more responsibility for their health and become part of the lifestyle decision making process."

The card, which has a USB connector, can fit into a wallet carried by the patient at all times. It completely eliminates the need to remember one's previous medicalhistory, treatment and medication when consulting a specialist for the first time or having to visit a doctor or hospital away from home, including overseas travel.

Security is of the highest level and cannot be compromised. The card is pass-phrase protected and encrypted. The Health eCard, however, does have an optional emergency access area which allows anyone to access selected information. This can prove a real benefit if a patient becomes ill abroad and the hospital requires an important piece of basic information. The pass-phrase isn't needed to access this information should the patient be unable to provide it.

When the patient is present and has access to the pass-phrase he or she can discuss the file with any healthcare professional. At no time is the data compromised.

Importantly, medication details are not reliant on memory and prescribing errors are reduced.

The benefits of Health eCard are wide ranging and invaluable to diabetics, women over 50 who are encouraged to keep mammogram records on their cards, people with allergies and students who need their medical records while at university or indeed anyone who spends time away from home.

The company has a 24/7 call centre service to support Health eCard holders, clinicians and hospitals needing to access the data if the patient is incapacitated.