Digital patient records not fully embraced by NHS Trusts

Healthcare
Majority of NHS Trusts yet to fully embrace digital patient records

New Freedom of Information (FoI) data reveals there is still progress to be made despite new Government guidelines and new research from enterprise information management company, OpenText, reveals that only one in ten NHS Trusts are fully digitised, despite the Government’s plans for a Paperless NHS by 2020.

This new data – taken from a FoI request to 74 NHS Trusts across the UK, with 52 organisations responding – indicates that there is still progress to be made when it comes to adoption of digital patient records. Key findings include:

Working towards a paperless NHS:

    • Just one third of responding Trusts stated that over half of their patient records are currently in digital format
    • Only one in five have 76-99% of their current patient records digitised
    • Only 16 Trusts were able to provide data around how many paper-based records they’d collected during Q4 – this amounted to 1.7 million records.

Investment in change:

    • The majority of Trusts have plans to digitise all patient records, with one in five aiming to become fully digitised within the next one to two years
    • To support this move to digital, the majority of Trusts are currently providing staff members with training in how to better manage digitised patient records.

Digital patient records

37% of responding Trusts stated that over half of their patient records are currently in a digital format. Only 23% of NHS Trusts confirmed that 76-99% of patient records – i.e. scans, letters, notes and results – are currently digitised

Respondents were asked to confirm the number of paper-based patient records they collected in Q4 2018, although 69% of those surveyed were unable to provide an answer – with only 31% able to provide this data. These NHS Trusts created more than 1.7 million paper-based records during this time period.

62% of Trusts have plans to digitise all patient records – with 12% already fully digitised and a further 21% aiming to become fully digitised within the next one to two years. In addition, 21% of Trusts are planning to become paperless within the next three to four years, in accordance with the new Government guidelines. Only 12% of those surveyed have no plans to digitise all patient records. To support this move to digital, 85% of Trusts are currently providing staff members with training in how to better manage digitised 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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