Patient story – Michael Harding

north west icon North West Coast

My diagnosis with COPD came after I was admitted into hospital suffering from pneumonia, that was about five years ago.  I’m 81 now and I’ve been active all through my life; I still swim 3 times a week and in my younger days I served in the military.  I guess I’ve led a normal and happy family life.

Along with my COPD I suffer from sleep apnoea, arthritis and I have a trapped nerve which runs from my spine and down the inside of my leg; a legacy of a hernia operation a few years back.  I take lots of different tablets and require oxygen from a tank for 16 hours a day which can be a pain, it’s certainly put an end to foreign holidays – the high pressure on the flights ruins me for days.  It can also be difficult to sleep at night, it’s quite noisy and obviously it’s not that comfortable either!

If my health data, anonymously, was shared with different organisations, future healthcare could be planned and perhaps research could be carried out to see if others where I live and with similar lifestyles benefited from different treatments for example.

I see a consultant at the local hospital in Bradford once a year.  It’s quite a quick appointment where they check how I am getting-on and monitor any change in my symptoms.  They still use paper records and so it sometimes seems like they have a lot of information to wade through.  I don’t think they have a complete history of my health and information about my other conditions like my GP does.

I didn’t realise that all of the information that the GP holds about me, like the medication I am taking and a complete list of my health problems couldn’t be shared with the consultant at the hospital.  How can they properly help if they don’t have all your information?  That doesn’t make sense to me. 

I would certainly be happy for all of the health professionals that I interact with to see my medical history, at the end of the day they are there to help and treat patients and that’s the most important thing.  I understand that some people have concerns about the privacy of their health information but I’m sorry, I don’t see it that way.

I visit a pain management centre locally about once a year for an injection to relieve the pain caused by my trapped nerve and it was there that my arthritis was diagnosed.  I would have expected this information to be included in all my medical files so that the different medications I receive don’t interact in a negative way but now I’m not so sure if that’s the case.  If doctors use different ways to record their diagnoses then how can they know that the treatments they are giving you is completely safe, or that one medication isn’t cancelling out another?

I don’t use my mobile phone for anything other than a phone but I’ve been told about some of the new ideas that the health service is currently trying out.  I take a mountain of tablets and I’m always forgetting about them so if there was a way that I could receive a reminder, like a text message or something telling me it was time to take my tablets that would be great.  I don’t forget on purpose so little improvements like that could make a big difference.

When I heard about Connected Health Cities it sounded like a sensible way to improve the health service.  Anything that makes life easier for the patients and improves services between different healthcare providers gets my full support.  I’m not really worried about my information getting into the wrong hands as it will mostly not have my personal details attached, they don’t need it for this project; I think the health benefits outweigh any of the risks anyway.

The opinions expressed here are my own personal views and do not reflect the views of the Innovation Agency, Connected Health Cities or any other organisation.

Patient stories highlight support for health data sharing