Can the whole NHS Patient Record ever be electronic?
The £12 billion NHS IT scheme to provide a central data base of patient records has been in trouble for some considerable time. Overspends, delays and system performance issues have dogged the project and 2 of the 4 ‘national’ providers of the system have pulled out of the contract.
The Tories have now promised that Trusts will have a choice in terms of systems if they get into office and they are looking to a local approach to implementing and managing the availability of information.
Anyone who has worked in the NHS will know that a totally centralised system was never a practical starter, but many recognise that the Patient record that for most is still paper based, needs to change.
Local Trusts are realising that with the growth of patient care carrying on with a paper based Medical Record is not practical – storage space, retrieval issues, and most importantly the issue of Risk Management related to non availability of records, are now key drivers in the need for change.
For many Trusts the sheer size of the archive can initially be daunting, but with a balanced approach, using external Bureau services and scaled internal EDM systems, achieving an electronic version of the patient record is practical. The one off cost for the conversion of the archive will show a payback over a relatively short period of time, in terms of much improved access leading to the removal of the old issue of notes being ‘lost’ or unavailable for clinics, and reducing the risk to both patients and Trusts because of the unavailability of key information.
IPC have been successfully supplying EDM systems and Bureau scanning and Storage and retrieval services to local NHS Trusts for over 15 years, each project succeeding as services are tailored to individual hospital needs. With a proper approach to the issue, getting the paper based record into an electronic format is a practical possibility, as the paper file can be scanned, and with modern EDM solutions such as that supplied by IPC, records can be added to without the need for scanning for most types of data.
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