Back in 2013, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt set the NHS the target of achieving a paperless operation by 2018. This was one of the many ambitious plans for improvement of the service within the Five Year Forward View. However, with only one year left to reach this target, ‘paperless’ is still not the standard procedure within the sector, making the realistic date of completion seem much further away. Amid reports of resistance for patient record scanning and other electronic processes, could bulk patient record digitisation kick-start better digital practices in healthcare?
A Care Quality Commission Report on a London-based hospital noted poor use of its electronic patient record system, resulting in missing and out-dated patient information. With this being just one of many examples of other hospitals and surgeries across the country that fail to embrace the move to paperless, a new approach is needed to stay on track for the 2018 target. Embarking on mass medical record scanning services could be the push the sector needs, acting as the first step towards implementing better practices in the future.
Naveed Ashraf, Managing Director at Pearl Scan agrees that this kind of action is needed. He revealed, “Switching over to any new way of working is never easy, especially in an organisation like the NHS which is so large and complex. In order to keep the entire company at the same level, they must give it the framework it needs to build upon itself, rather than watching different institutions progress at different rates – which is exactly what is happening.
“To start, investing in a large-scale, outsourced bulk medical record and document scanning service is essential to quickly and effectively digitise all existing patient records. Once the initial, laborious work has been done, it will be easy to follow on from that and maintain these digital practices.”
Once in place, a paperless NHS is thought to be able to save the healthcare organisation billions. While this initial statement was made four years ago, the need for such savings remains critical in order to sustain its services, making support of this digital drive imperative.