A subscription service that supplies patients with customised information and advice about their medical conditions via the internet, PDAs or mobile phones is to launch later this month.
The Personal Medical Advisor (PMA) system will send subscribers updates on their conditions including details of new treatments, research updates and even prescription reminders.
Dr Simon Berrisford, founder and managing director of PMA, said that he is confident that use of the system would result in improved patient care.
"This will increase patient choice and empower them to look after themselves. Hopefully they'll be more informed about their health," he explained.
"A good 50 per cent of what we tell patients during a consultation is forgotten by the time they leave the room."
And because patients get to sign-off their records as correct before the service goes live, it is also hoped that errors in medical records will be picked up and rectified.
A recent report by the National Audit Office found that 30 per cent of patient records contain errors of some kind.
"We know as doctors that patients want to have more control over their health," said Dr Berrisford.
"The service is meant to be synergistic with the NHS in providing patients with information and advice tailored to their medical profile."
Patients can also update their own medical record with details of new allergies or medication. The virtual doctor service will initially target those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
At £17.50 per month for an individual subscription, and £27.50 for family membership (in both cases, children are included free), the question remains as to whether the potential benefits will be enough to encourage patients to stump up the cash.
The system launches on 14 July but users can pre register and test the services now by accessing www.personalmedicaladvisor.co.uk.
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