Secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley told an audience at the HC2011 conference on Tuesday that the "information revolution" proposed by his white paper and the subsequent Health and Social Care Bill will reduce costs across the NHS by 20 per cent.
Lansley also explained that the move to make patient data available was part of the wider government drive towards transparency.
The coalition's transparency agenda has seen it publish all spending of more than £25,000, details of who does what in Whitehall, and all current and upcoming contracts.
"The move signifies a real shift in thinking that the NHS is also set to take on," he said.
Although the Department of Health has yet to respond to the recommendations made in the BCS's NHS Information Consultation submitted in January, Lansley explained that the government's role in health informatics was clear.
It must ensure that coding standards are sound, that there is uniformity across the NHS and that systems are interoperable, he said, but added that it was up to local authorities to ensure that they had adequate IT in place to record and access data.
"To date, poor performance in the NHS has gone hidden as has good performance. And openness and transparency shows up faults and leads to embarrassment. But in the long run it will benefit everyone," he said.
The collection of patient records will be of huge benefit for several reasons, according to Lansley. First, it will help "put the patient in control of their own care", because patients will be able to access their records online and can present these to any GP.
He also said that care records are even more useful when they are anonymous and combined for clinical research. For example, combining data related to cardiac surgery, which was done several years ago, and benchmarking this data against other data from different countries has seen a 50 per cent reduction in death after cardiac surgery across the UK.
Separately, the BMA announced last month that it would begin rolling out electronic Summary Care Records again after a decision was made to put their rollout on hold last summer.
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