MyHealthBox – a first for mental health care

Guest blog: Mike Denis, Director of Information Strategy at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM)

Today, Tuesday 15th May, Health Minister Lord Howe officially launches MyHealthBox, the world’s first patient-held electronic health record in the field of mental health.

It’s the product of a partnership between my Trust, the South London and Maudsley (SLaM), and local primary care. Each user of MyHealthBox will have secure access to their care plan from SLaM, information stored by their GPs, plus their own contributed data which can include goals, observations on self-care, and even feedback on the care they receive.

The repository for all this valuable knowledge is Microsoft HealthVault, which allows users to securely collect, store and manage their own health information; and then decide what is shared and with whom. HealthVault means that as a Trust, we can concentrate on information services to our patients without excessively spending time and money worrying about information storage and infrastructure. It’s a great way for NHS to leverage cloud computing and deliver a solution that we think is what our patients want, and which is safe and secure.

But MyHealthBox amounts to far more than the online storage of a rich set of clinical information. It creates something genuinely different for the patient by putting them at the centre of their healthcare experience. By opening up a two-way flow of information between patients and their clinicians; MyHealthBox represents a shift in the status of the patient from a passive recipient of care to an active participant in their care.

The launch is the culmination of a long and careful process - we spent plenty of time refining the service, and making sure that it meets the needs of our community. That included a formal consultation with SLaM service users. One such user of the pilot service says “For the first time ever, I feel, that if the information stored within the record is consulted prior to a meeting with a health professional and service user, then a truly meaningful dialogue could emerge”. This two-way care process is my ideal outcome.

We are the first mental health organisation to pursue information sharing with patients in this way and this is a great example of technology supporting structural innovation in the way we deliver our services, with a realistic prospect of sustainable service transformation. Our patients can become the co-producers of their care plan, and that means that these plans stop being just a piece of paper and become something with which both patients and care providers want to follow through.”

Mike Denis

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