NHS medical records should be hosted online by providers such as Google and Microsoft, according to the Conservatives.
The suggestion follows the ongoing problems faced by the government’s £12bn NHS IT programme, which has been hit by delays and cost over-runs.
The Tories’ plan would allow trusts to choose their computer systems from approved suppliers rather than having them provided centrally.
It would also permit patients to access their own records, add details and share experiences with other patients who face similar health problems.
Schemes such as this are already widely used in the US and Canada, where a local record is also held by the doctor overseeing a patient’s care.
Shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien said: ‘Giving patients greater control over their health records is crucial if we are to make the NHS more patient centred.’
The extent to which records could be edited - including the possibility that people might choose to delete information - would be subject to consultation with patients and doctors.