The Department of Health's new ten-year framework for transforming online information for the NHS, public health and social care has been cautiously welcomed by the King's Fund.
Ministers want electronic care records to become "a key source of the health and care information used to improve our care, improve services and to inform research, etc. – reducing bureaucratic data collections and enabling us to measure quality".
One of the key commitments is that you will be able to view your GP record online by 2015.
Dr Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King's Fund, said the new Information Strategy is a "bold and ambitious plan" but warned that rolling it out across the country will raise "technical and financial challenges".
"While we welcome the ambition and direction of the strategy, at a time of unprecedented financial constraint, some commissioners and providers will find it challenging to invest in developing information systems rather than frontline services," Dr Raleigh said.
"We need to be realistic about what is achievable in the short to medium term.'
"There are huge benefits to be gained from putting information in the hands of patients but this has often encountered professional resistance in the past. Data governance issues should not be used as an excuse for inaction – the default position should be for data to be accessible to patients unless there are clear reasons not to make it available."
Dr Raleigh warned that much of the success of the project will depend on the pace and scale of local take up.
A Department of Health spokesman said:
"The success of this strategy depends as much on a culture shift – in the way patients, users of services and professionals think, work and interact – as it does on data or IT systems.
"It depends on making the shift to give us more control of our health and care and on recognising that collecting and sharing good information is pivotal to improving the quality, safety and effectiveness of our care, as well as our own experiences of care."