NHS Moves Towards Paperless Operations

medical record scanning

Many organisations across all industries can benefit from going paperless – and the government has already highlighted the National Health Service as one such organisation. The NHS has a target to digitalise patient records and become completely paperless, which will reduce time spent on administrative tasks and hopefully improve patient care. NHS Trusts are already expected to have patient records online, but health secretary Jeremy Hunt has challenged the NHS to become a paperless operation by 2018.

This move to roll out paperless operations has already started, with some NHS Trusts and GP practices taking the plunge and making the digital switch. The first NHS Trust to go paperless a few years ago was St Helens & Knowsley, and now other across the UK are on a paperless trail. In one GP practice in the area, moving to a digital database has freed up 20 square metres of space and freed up staff who had to spend two to three hours manually searching records for referral letters and other records. Dr David Wilson predicts digitalising all 11,000 records has reduced admin costs by one person a day each week.

With such positive reports from professionals who have made the paperless switch, many other NHS trusts are following suit well ahead of the 2018 deadline. One of the most recent areas to implement the digital strategy is Royal Free London NHS Trust, which treats around 700,000 patients each year. All paper care records are being transferred to digital, so staff can have instant access to records and patient information.

new horizontal 36Will Smart, Director of information management and technology at the Royal Free said, "For a complex hospital environment like ours, managing patient care using paper case-notes has been logistically very challenging. Tracking and moving paper case notes across a large physical estate has made it difficult to ensure that these are available where and when they are needed and has required a large administrative team.

"By digitising these case-notes we have the opportunity to improve the quality of the services we provide whilst reducing costs, and believe the new platform will enable us to digitise other paper-based corporate records and drive further efficiencies.”

The NHS obviously has an obligation to keep patient records and log all communication with patients for compliance. Medical document scanning and electrical storage is more efficient and cost effective for private and NHS hospitals, doctor’s surgeries, dentists and medical trusts. A digital archive system can securely store case notes, information and event digitised X-rays, while reducing admin costs. For more information about how medical record scanning can improve your healthcare practice and reach digitalisation targets, get in touch.

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