Patients will be able to access their GP records from their smartphone or tablet within the next 12 months, says health minister Jeremy Hunt.
The records available online by 2016 will not be just a summary of their allergies and medication, but a full account of blood test results, appointment records and medical histories all in a "read and write" format, he said.
By 2018 this record will include information from all their health and care interactions, he said, adding that his ambition was to get 15 per cent of NHS patients routinely reading and adding to their online medical records using smartphones apps.
Speaking at the NHS Innovation Expo in Manchester, Hunt said: "The evidence all over the world is when a patient starts accessing their medical record they then start to think about their healthcare in a different way. When you have shared access to a medical record it becomes a shared endeavour and the world's most powerful patients become the world's most healthiest patients."
The system will be rolled out by NHS England next Spring as part of a new library of endorsed apps addressing issues like maternity and early years, obesity, diabetes as well as apps that can give people the ability to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and change hospital appointments.
By the end of 2018, all doctors and nurses will be able to access the most up-to-date lifesaving information wherever a patient is in England across GP surgeries, ambulance services and A & E departments. By 2020 this will include the social care system as well.
Hunt added: "137 people die or are seriously harmed every year because of medication errors, many of those could be avoided if a doctor or nurse had access to electronic healthcare records."
A system of "intelligent transparency" will ensure private medical information remains secure, he said, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be tasked with carrying out a review of standards of data security for patients' confidential information across the NHS.
Hunt said: "The truth is that we will throw this all away if we lose the public's trust in our ability to look after their personal data securely and I just want to finish by reflecting on the importance of that."
Welcoming the announcement, CQC's chief executive David Behan said: "People need to have trust in the NHS and have confidence that their personal medical records will be secure and protected at all times.
"We welcome the Secretary of State's request for us to carry out a national review of security arrangements across the NHS for patient-confidential medical information."