Firstly, I spent the morning fighting the battle that is making an appointment on the phone - I won't go into detail as I’m pretty sure you've all experienced the permanent engaged tone and then being told they can't see you for a fortnight.
My faith was restored when I was victorious in the ‘phone at 2pm’ race to get one of those appointments that mysteriously becomes available on the same day.
It was obviously a while since I'd been to the surgery as technology had arrived at my village practice - well sort of. Given the problem I'd had getting through on the phone, I expected the receptionist to be too busy checking people in to able to answer the phone. But no, I was directed to a new touch screen to do self check in.
Excellent I hear you cry - not so excellent I was thinking as I dutifully did as I was told and headed to the monitor. My first thought was that the row of people sitting right in front of the screen had a prime view of my details, closely followed by wondering how many ill people had left their germs on that screen! I was however relieved to find that no personal information was needed, but it really did seem that the screen had simply been plugged into the nearest socket without thought for the users. And sure enough, in the half an hour I was waiting another person had exactly the same thoughts and refused to use it with a very loud cry of ‘I’m not doing that with all those people looking on!’
And yes, you did read that right, the GP was running half an hour late. I am well aware that I'm not usually the most patient of people, but in such circumstances I simply tell myself that there must be someone in greater need of the doctor than me - maybe an emergency or a visit in the community.
But no, whilst I was waiting I wasn't occupied reading an out of date celeb magazine, I was observing life going on around me. It seems that the patient before me had only been to the surgery once before and they simply couldn't find her medical records. Don't worry they found them eventually; it only took half an hour. But if we had a fully electronic records system, they would have found them in a few clicks.
So when it was at last my turn, the doctor was great and referred me for an X-ray at the local hospital. Yes, we're very lucky to still have a community hospital with an X-ray department and I am of course grateful. But once again, it turns out not to be so straightforward.
I'm moving house next week and this apparently changes everything, even though I'm only going about six miles. Firstly I have to wait for an appointment letter - must remember to get my mail redirected then. Then once I've had the X-ray I need to come back for the results and herein lies the problem. If I'm judged to now live outside the boundary - although no one told me where the boundary actually is - I won't be able to go back to my usual doctors. I'll have to register at another surgery who should be able to get a copy of the X-ray. ‘Should?’ To be honest I'd feel much happier to know that my records are portable and they can access my data...
So you see, the electronic patient records from 2018 are going to bring benefits on a variety of levels. Technology will make patient records more readily accessible to both GPs and hospital doctors as well as to patients. There’ll be no more drowning in paper, which no one can find anyway. It won't really matter if I'm moving house I won’t explain my medical history every time I see a new clinician. This video explains it perfectly.