The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce plans tomorrow for a £4.2bn investment to create a ‘paperless NHS’.
With government departments generally embracing the digital revolution, it is hoped that the NHS can set high standards in this area.
Hunt will make a statement indicating that the investment in this department will enable the NHS to deliver superior and more convenient services.
It is also hoped that clinicians will be able to provide faster diagnoses, which will free them to spend more time caring for patients.
Full details of the funding are still being agreed between the Department of Health and NHS England.
But early indications are that £1.8 billion will be set aside in order to create a paper-free NHS, removing outdated technology such as fax machines from the health service loop.
In addition to this £1.8 billion investment, it is also anticipated that £1 billion will be set aside for cyber security and data consent.
This must be considered particularly important, as it has been made clear recently that IT vulnerability in the NHS is a concern.
£750 million will be invested in order to transform out-of-hospital care, medicines, and digitalise social, urgent and emergency care.
Finally, around £400 million will enable the NHS to construct a new website, develop apps and provide free Wi-Fi in all NHS buildings.
It has been confirmed that NHS.uk will be the domain name for the new website of the health service.
The government is also developing a new click and collect service for prescriptions.
Hunt offered the following comment on the multi-billion pound plan.
“The NHS has the opportunity to become a world leader in introducing new technology – which means better patient outcomes and a revolution in healthcare at home.
On the back of a strong economy, and because of our belief in the NHS and its values, we are investing more than £4 billion across the health system to ease pressure on the frontline and create stronger partnerships between doctor and patient.
Under the plans everyone will have access to their own electronic health record, which will be shared between professionals to prevent patients from having to repeat their medical history.
Patients will also be given the opportunity to upload and send real-time data to medical professionals on long-term conditions such as blood pressure.
By 2020, it is hoped that 25% of all patients with long term conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer will be able to monitor their health remotely.”
However, despite the apparent advantages proclaimed by the government, Shadow health minister Justin Madders was sceptical of the value of this new scheme.
“Any investment in technology is welcome but it’s unclear how much, if any, of this money is actually new. Rather than re-hashing old announcements, Jeremy Hunt needs to be telling the public how he intends to sort out the crisis facing our NHS.”
Madders also delivered a damning verdict on the management of the NHS by the Conservative party.
“The Tories cannot hide from the fact that the NHS is going backwards on their watch. Hospital departments have become dangerously full, patients are waiting hours in A&E, and the health service is facing the worst financial crisis in a generation.”
Despite the political wranglings, it does seem that a digitalisation of NHS services is overdue.
The new Carenotes EPR system is part of a digital revolution intended to improve mental health services across the United Kingdom.
And St Pancras Hospital is among the first health facilities to benefit from this sophisticated system, with Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust leading the way with the technology.
The hospital has already gone live with the Carenotes system, ensuring that patients are provided with a superior service at the healthcare facility.
Carenotes is a leading Electronic Patient Record system produced by Advanced Health & Care.
Since going live, the solution has already helped the Camden-based hospital to meet a raft of ambitious delivery targets.
Carenotes played a particularly important role in the completion of a focused two-year project within the hospital.
The new Carenotes system enables staff to view patient records more expediently, enabling staff to make quicker and more informed legal decisions.
It is expected that the increased data access facilitated by the Carenotes system will enable more accurate clinical decisions to be made owing to the increased data accessibility allowed.
In addition, it is also hoped that the software will facilitate more consistent working processes within hospitals, providing efficient and joined up multi-agency working.
St Pancras Hospital has already reported improved patient care and satisfaction, based on surveys of existing operations, and it is projected that this could spread to the rest of the UK in time.
Wendy Wallace, chief executive of the trust, took time out of her busy schedule in order to explain the benefits of the system as perceived by the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.
“Our ambition is to lead a digital revolution to provide better overall patient care to thousands of people with mental health conditions. By working in partnership with Advanced to meet tight project timescales, we now move this vision closer to reality,” Wallace explained.
Wallace was also keen to emphasise that the implementation of this new ambitious patient record system has certainly been a success, despite the fact that it is still in its embryonic stages.
“Our successful ‘go live’ is not only a great achievement for the technical teams, but also for all our staff who have committed to training in the new Carenotes system. I’ve been particularly impressed by the network of highly-enthusiastic champions that have stepped forward to support their colleagues and the trust. User confidence is one of the keys to a successful transition and we are clearly demonstrating this now,” Wallace asserted.
The Camden and Islington trust has moved quickly to recruit 165 ‘Carenotes Champions’ to smooth the process of transitioning to this software.
This group of people comprises staff volunteers, and enables personal skills and management experience across the organisation to be developed significantly.
David Jackland, associate director of ICT at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, is pleased about the impact that Carenotes is making. “To deliver a project of this scale is a remarkable achievement. Everyone’s considerable efforts have been rewarded,” Jackland noted.
As the NHS continues its transformation to a paperless organisation, systems such as Carenotes can play a major role in the transition.
As the NHS continues on its journey towards becoming a paperless organisation by 2018, a new initiative is helping keep medical records secure and free from paper.
Pearl Scan Solutions is playing a significant role in assisting GP surgeries, health trusts and hospital departments with the implementation of electronic storage systems.
This is a particularly important programme for the NHS, as it is estimated by the government that the cost of physical paper storage is somewhere in the region of £500,000 and £1 million per year for each healthcare trust.
As part of its arrangement with Pearl Scan Solutions, every patient in the NHS will be provided with a barcode in order to streamline operations in the healthcare service.
It is also suggested that NHS apps could be developed in the near future, which will enable people to book appointments and order prescriptions via their smartphones or other mobile devices.
Research has suggested that a fluent and intuitive digital system could help save the NHS millions of pounds every year.
Such an initiative would enable medication errors to be reduced, allow storage space to be generated, and ultimately save on both time and resources.
It is also thought that an NHS-wide revolution into digital storage systems could help cut down on administration errors and further improve data protection.
One recent such example of this came from a hospital in Essex. Goodmayes Hospital in Illford accidentally sent a patient’s entire personal medical record to another person via the post.
The patient in question was perturbed by the accidental leaking of sensitive information.
Speaking about the initiative with the NHS, Naveen Ashraf, managing director of Pearl Scan Solutions, pointing out that medical records can easily go awry in what is a pressurised environment.
“Medical records are strictly private and confidential, so this story highlights what can go wrong in busy NHS environments with an overworked workforce,” Ashraf stated.
Ashraf also took time to outline the benefits of a paperless office environment.
“Medical staff make mistakes too, they are only human – but by having a paperless NHS, we can further safeguard patients and ensure all medical records are safe and secure. They are also much more easily accessible, which will speed up treatment and generally improve care across the board,” Ashraf asserted.
As the NHS continues the transformation into the digital age, it is expected that hospitals, surgeries, dentists and other medical organisations will become much more efficient.
With pressure on NHS budgets, it was suggested by the existing Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, that paperless working within the NHS could save £4.4 billion.
Regardless of the validity of these claims, it is broadly accepted that paperless working is more efficient, and the NHS is indeed committed to instigating this form of operation.