Coronavirus test results now visible to GPs

22 Jul 2020

COVID-19 test results are now being automatically sent to GP systems as well as being communicated to the individual, giving GPs visibility of which of their patients have had COVID-19 tests and whether they have tested positive or negative.

Patients who use online patient services such as the NHS App and who have requested full access to their GP medical records will now be able to access their results themselves, as well as receiving their results via communication from the NHS Business Service Authority as before.

The results will appear in patient’s record as a laboratory test result but appear in a way that makes them easily distinguishable from other types of test results.

The new data flow utilises EMIS Health’s Keystone product - which provides messaging of clinical and administrative data such as pathology – with data now flowing into the systems of 95 per cent of GP surgeries and the remaining 5 per cent due to go live soon.

The data will not just cover new tests. All tests already carried where it is possible to identify the test recipient’s NHS number – the majority of tests carried out – will also be shared.

There may be a short time lag between the result being communicated to the patient by NHS BSA and the results arriving in the GP system, but it should provide near real-time data.

It applies to all tests booked via the nhs.uk/coronavirus or gov.uk portals for tests carried out at testing centres or at with at-home testing kits.

Patients do not need to be contacted by the practice as the results will have already been provided to the individual by text and email. Guidance is provided in the text/email; for example requirements on isolation, what to do if symptoms get worse; plus links to national guidance. Individuals do not need to contact their GP practice.

““We have worked quickly to ensure this technology can be put in place so that GPs are kept informed about coronavirus tests being undertaken by their patients, while making sure it is done simply, with as little additional admin for GP practice staff as possible. We would like to thank EMIS Health for working with us to deliver this at speed using their Keystone product.”

Richard Ashcroft, programme director at NHS Digital

Richard Ashcroft, programme director at NHS Digital, said:

“Many patients would regard it as a given that their test results should automatically appear in their GP medical record, but the technological work behind the scenes with a brand new system such as that delivering the testing programme is considerable.”

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at EMIS Group, said:

“Primary Care holds the lifelong record of every patient in England. This program ensures that these records now include COVID-19 test results. Technology has played a pivotal role in the response to COVID-19 across the board and keeping the medical record up to date with COVID-19 test results means everyone who can share that record has a full picture of the patient’s health, including the patient themselves via Patient Access.

“This will not only help day to day patient care, and it will also help on a wider population health level, as data-led insight relies on full and complete medical records as analysts continue to research COVID-19 and its short- and long-term impact on the nation."