Patients in Hong Kong will be able to access their own medical records and input health data with the trial run later this year of a new portal for the city’s electronic health record sharing system.
The move will broaden access to the e-health record system, which was launched in 2016 and is currently accessible only by health care providers such as doctors and nurses in the public and private sectors.
At present, the system allows professionals in different institutions to view and share health records with patients’ consent and authorisation.
A paper submitted by the Food and Health Bureau to the Legislative Council on Tuesday for discussion next week stated that the patient portal was proposed to “help patients more actively manage their health”.
Among the portal’s functions will be allowing patients access to part of their key e-health records, such as medication, appointments, allergies and adverse drug reactions. Patients would also be allowed to input health data into the system, for example growth charts of children and immunisation records.
Elderly patients would also be able to use the portal to check the balance and transaction history of their health care vouchers.
While a pilot version of the portal is expected to be rolled out in the fourth quarter of this year to selected users, such as patient groups and customers of a forthcoming government-initiated district health centre in Kwai Tsing, the full launch, with the portal’s initial functions, is planned for the second half of 2020.
Tim Pang Hung-cheong, a patients’ rights advocate who provided consultation during the development of the portal, said it offered greater convenience to patients.
“It helps patients access relevant health care information and their health records,” Pang said.
He suggested that other data such as laboratory and imaging results should also be included for patients to access in the future.
“Patients could take note of how some of their readings might be increasing or fluctuating and adjust their lifestyle or diet accordingly,” he said.
While around 1 million patients had joined the e-health record system as of the end of last month, equal to about 14 per cent of the city’s population, there remained concerns among the public about the system.
In a Chinese University survey commissioned by the bureau last year, 48 per cent of 1,000 patients interviewed who had not joined the system said they were worried about security and privacy.
Among the 308 surveyed doctors who were not part of the system, 45 per cent of them thought accessing the e-health system was time-consuming.
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