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Patient care positively paperless - NHS dropping the load

Cultivating IT within the NHS minimises hassle for staff and a possible saving of an impressive £4billion….or so says Mr Hunt.

With Jeremy Hunt still firmly in the Health Secretary seat, pushing the NHS in to a paperless movement by 2018 is one of his main priorities.

Hoping to save our healthcare billions, by embracing paperless we could, improve our services and help meet our ever ageing population head first.

Going the paperless route will mean, patients health records are able to be tracked through the health and social care system, with constant accessibility. With a simple touch of a button, the healthcare professional will be able to see all patient information. Weather in a remote GP, hospital or care home, all are able to share and make notes.

Not only will this paperless revolution inject the clinicians with positive time saving technology, the patients will see the difference too….

They will be able to notice the difference by just spending a longer length of time that professional are able to spend with them, no longer spending this time searching for their patients notes. This prolonged one to one care will enable the patient to take a considerable amount of control over their own healthcare care. In turn, this patient empowerment has been proven to shorten hospital stays, meaning they can get back to their much needed normalities at home.

Jeremy Hunts wish list in the lead up for 2018….

Online access - Do you fancy accessing your own Healthcare records at a click of a button, sounds too good? Well now you can, with Hunts online request access push through your own GP.

Hospital referrals - Fed up of keeping those endless letters from your GP referring you to the hospital, for yet more tests? Well look no more, with a state of the art email to let you know the same information at the tips of your fingers.

Electronic Links - We all know how busy the NHS is so having electronic live links to your electronic healthcare records would mean easy quick access to all your body history with one click.

Hey presto, by implementing all these things your digital information will be fully available across NHS and social care services by 2018.

The NHS Commissioning Board is leading implementation and it has set a clear expectation that hospitals should plan to make information digitally and securely available by 2014/15. This means that different professionals involved in one person's’ care can start to share information safely on their treatment.*

Jeremy Hunt said:

“The NHS cannot be the last man standing as the rest of the economy embraces the technology revolution. It is crazy that paramedics cannot access a full medical history of someone they are picking up in an emergency - and that GPs and hospitals still struggle to share digital records.

“Previous attempts to crack this became a top down project akin to building an aircraft carrier. We need to learn those lessons - and in particular avoid the pitfalls of a hugely complex, centrally specified approach. Only with world class information systems will the NHS deliver world class care.”

Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information in the NHS Commissioning Board, said:

“I welcome Jeremy Hunt’s challenge to unleash the power of information and technology for patients and those who serve them. We are committed to transforming transparency and participation in the NHS - the digital data revolution is key to improving outcomes and putting patients and carers more in control.”

Bradford GP Dr Shahid Ali has already introduced technical innovations in his practice. These include online tools which help his patients manage their own conditions, by identifying the health problems they have which can be reduced through lifestyle changes, and supporting them through those changes. He said:

“The experience in my practice has been that the ability for patients to access actionable personal medical information about their own healthcare and clinical conditions changes the doctor-patient relationship in a very positive way. Patients gain a much greater understanding of their own health, which allows them to work with their GPs to set their own healthcare goals - and reach them.

“Online access is about harnessing patient power and enabling them to have the right information to make the right choices for their own unique circumstances and health needs. Helping patients to take control makes their experience of receiving care much more positive. As communications technology advances and this type of relationship becomes much more achievable, doctors all over the country are increasingly recognising the benefits of empowering patients, both for themselves and for the people they serve.”

Jeremy Hunt’s speech came as two new reports were published which demonstrate the potential benefits to staff and patients of greater use of digital technology in the NHS.

A PwC study reviewing the potential benefits of better use of information and technology found that measures such more electronic prescribing and electronic patient records could improve care, allow health professionals to spend more time with patients and save billions.

Findings included:

  • A potential £4.4billion could be released to improve care by making better use of information and technology.

The report highlighted findings of NHS studies that demonstrated the benefits of effective use of information and technology. For example:

  • The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital conducted a trial of a system that asks spinal surgery patients to record their progress on an iPad while in hospital, then at home through an online system after being discharged. This created an estimated 300 new outpatient appointment slots per consultant surgeon per year - so they could spend more time with more patients. 95 per cent of patients preferred the new online process to the traditional pen and paper method;

  • Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals Trust trialled a computerised paperless system on its haematology and dermatology wards. This meant that professionals could see GP referral letters, letters from clinics, test orders and X-rays. They found that they could save half an hour in a three and a half to four hour clinic.

  • Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals brought in an electronic prescribing system which meant that the accuracy of prescriptions was radically increased and they estimated the system could reduce potential adverse reactions to drugs by up to 60 per cent

A National Mobile Health Worker report, also published today, was a pilot study on introducing laptops at 11 NHS sites. The benefits found included:

  • North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust found each clinician could save as much as £889 per year by reducing unnecessary journeys. The mileage that staff normally clocked up from driving to and from hospital in between visits fell, because health workers could log patient information on the laptop.

  • John Taylor Hospice near Birmingham found that using laptops more than doubled the amount of time clinicians could spend with patients.

  • Clinicians also found the number of ‘No Access’ cases - where they visited a patient’s home and were unable to gain access because they did not know the secure key code - reduced significantly, as they were able to verify the code on the laptop. The study found NHS Northampton could save as much as £978 from No Access visits per clinician, per year.

The Government recently announced it would be making £100 million available to NHS nurses and midwives to spend on new technology. The question is are hospitals equipped for the digital era of going paperless and beyond that. Hospitals need to insure a smooth transition into the digital era and in some cases the infrastructure to host digital technology needs to reflect future progressions as well as "going paperless", as much as savings go we need to utilise that saving, investment for a solid digital infrastructure is more necessary than even and this can vary from mobile phones to AIO computing and mobile workstations all this needs to be well though out.

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