‘Getting it write’ in a new era of patient online access to primary care health records

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


To explore how to help make online consultation notes easier for patient audiences to
Most patients in England will soon be able to access all new prospective entries (including
free-text) within their online primary care health record via the NHS App or other online
We conducted interviews and focus group discussions with 26 patients from underserved
communities. Participants responded to vignettes about fictional patient consultation
scenarios and assessed the clarity of corresponding simulated records. Participants were then
asked to identify potential comprehension issues, offensive content, or anxiety triggers.
Most participants struggled to understand a large proportion of simulated notes, particularly
medical acronyms, clinician shorthand, and non-clinical abbreviations. Participants also
identified issues that may cause unintended offence or additional anxiety. Participants
considered that most patients will struggle to fully understand the content of their
consultation notes in their current format. They made a number of suggestions about how
this service may be improved to meet the needs of patient audiences and maintain positive
patient-clinician relationships.
Opening up online record access to include patient audiences necessitates a significant
cultural shift in the way that consultation notes are written and used. To maximise NHS
investment in this policy and avoid worsening health inequalities, it is essential to ensure that
all patients can understand and access the benefits of online access to their notes. To do this,
clinicians need to be supported to manage the challenges of writing for patient audiences,
while continuing to maintain effective clinical care.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2024


  • Electronic Health Record
  • Primary Care
  • Patient Perspective
  • Digital Health


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