Still progress to be made on digital records

New research has revealed that only one in ten NHS trusts are fully digitised, despite the government’s plans for a paperless NHS by 2020.

Only 37 per cent of trusts stated that over half of their patient records are currently in a digital format, with 23 per cent of NHS trusts confirming to OpenText that between 76-99 per cent of patient records – i.e. scans, letters, notes and results – are currently digitised.

The NHS Long Term Plan requires all secondary healthcare providers to transition to digital records by 2023, ensuring clinicians can access and interact with patient records and care plans wherever they are. Respondents were asked to confirm the number of paper-based patient records they collected in Q4 2018, although only 31 per cent were able to provide this data. These NHS trusts alone were found to have created more than 1.7 million paper-based records during this time period.

The new data also revealed that 62 per cent of trusts have plans to digitise all patient records – with 12 per cent already fully digitised and a further 21 per cent aiming to become fully digitised within the next two years. In addition, 21 per cent of trusts are planning to become paperless within the next three to four years, in accordance with the new government guidelines. Only 12 per cent of those surveyed have no plans to digitise all patient records.

Tracey Lethbridge, head of UK public sector at OpenText, said: “Virtually every aspect of modern life has been radically reshaped by innovation and technology. Yet, in the UK, the delivery of healthcare remains locked into a service model created when the NHS was founded more than 70 years ago. The NHS is made up of hundreds of separate but linked organisations, and the burden of managing complex interactions and data flows between trusts, systems and individuals too often falls on patients.
“With new government guidelines in place, the ultimate goal is to empower healthcare organisations to evolve working practices and provide better patient care whilst reducing costs. One way to achieve this is to take a digital approach to information management. Through the creation of a “one patient, one record” environment, NHS clinicians can easily access the necessary information – regardless of where it is and in what form – to more effectively commission and monitor services that reflect the needs of patients. Ultimately, accurate and timely patient data is at the heart of delivering quality care and will ensure all front-line care staff can access this information where and when it is needed, boosting their productivity and enabling them to help more patients, more quickly.”

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