Patients in two areas of England will soon be able to check their medical records on the internet.
Patients will be able to access their records via the Internet
The Health Secretary John Reid says he is piloting the idea in the North East and in London.
Records will be kept confidential and the scheme is expected to be up and running by 2005.
If successful, the system will be introduced across the country in the next 10 years.
The government is spending £1.6bn on the 10-year NHS Care Record Service.
The service will provide all 50 million NHS patients with an individual electronic NHS care record, which will detail key treatments and care within either the health service or social care.
For the first time, information about patients will be mobile and not remain in filing stores in the buildings where treatment or care has been received.
It will connect more than 30,000 GPs and 270 acute, community and mental health NHS trusts.
The trial in the North East will cover, Northumberland, Tyneside, Wearside, County Durham, Teesside, Yorkshire and Humberside.
Health Secretary John Reid said: "This is a key part of reform of the NHS and will help make the NHS a truly responsive service, which provides patients with more choice.
"At present, most patients have a number of different paper and computer based records that cannot be quickly transferred around the system.
"The new system will completely revolutionise the way that information is accessed and will make available efficient, secure and integrated records to the right people at the right time.
"Patient records will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure that vital information about an individual's health and care history can be available instantly to health professionals who have authorised access.
"This will be of particular use to A&E staff who can access information about emergency patients and help to diagnose them more quickly."
Information specialists Accenture has been awarded a 10 year contract, worth £1.09bn, to provide systems to access and use the service and IT support at a local level in the North East.
BT has been awarded a 10 year contract, worth £996m to provide systems to access and use the service and IT support at a local level in London.
Director General of NHS IT, Richard Granger said: "Patients will become more involved in their care with access to their records.
"They will be able to exercise choice and experience less delay and waiting as appointments will be booked at their convenience, test requests and results transferred electronically to cut days from the current process and electronic prescriptions will improve patient safety and provide a modern service."