NHS must adopt the paperless approach to rise above the recent challenges!
NHS has been providing healthcare services to the UK citizens for last 70 years. The National Health Service is dedicated to ensuring proper healthcare and well-being of the public. The NHS staff is always up and available to take care of the people. But, it gets quite challenging for the NHS trusts to deliver quality care, maintain records, and manage resources with budget constraints and lack of technology.
In the latest Parliament Street research, 68 NHS Trusts reported the loss of 162,000 missing documents. It was petrifying to know that 9,132 documents were reported unavailable or lost during the last financial year. It was also established that 94% of NHS trusts still use handwritten notes for patient record-keeping. Though few of them were having some kind of electronic record software, paper-based methods were prevalent.
The University Hospital Birmingham accounted for the largest ‘unavailable’ or ‘missing’ records. To be precise, the number of missing records included 3,179 documents. The second largest figure was 2,163 records of Bolton NHS Trust. The University Hospital Bristol was the next in line with 1,105 records lost.
Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust with 426 records and Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust with 425 cases of misplaced, lost or stolen data stated they did not use any electronic systems and relied only on paper notes.
In the past also we have seen the terrible effects of gruesome cyber-attacks like WannaCry in 2017. The industry called it the biggest ransomware hitting many systems across the globe. NHS had to bear bad consequences of this cyber-attack due to lack of security.
Challenge to Change
It is a hard nut to crack with 95 percent of NHS Trusts still depending on ‘unreliable methods’ of documentation like handwritten notes and paperwork instead of using digital systems.
NHS deals with highly sensitive and personal data. It is very important for them to take care of the records as well as make sure that people can access their services at their convenience and in a timely fashion. Digital transformation promises a better working scenario with increased efficiency and reduced chaos. Then, why they are still using conventional methods? Here are few reasons for this slow-paced progress:
- Lack of awareness
- Threats of cyberattacks, hacking, etc.
- Financial limitations
- Mindset and behavior
- Interoperability and Integration issues
- No proper strategy in place
- Legal constraints
- Existing contracts
- Lack of skills
- Fear of failure
These reasons cannot justify the dependency on the fly-by-night methods. It is utmost necessary for the NHS organisations to step ahead and embrace the digital transformation. They must consider this move and redesign their existing service models. It will not only enhance data storing but also improve staff efficiency.
The Promise of Digitalisation: Security, Efficiency, Quality.
For NHS to make the ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ a reality, it must ensure to achieve the set target of making the entire patient and care records digital, real-time and interoperable by 2020. In conjunction with that, the NHS’s Five Year Forward View aims for following key developments-
- Personalised Care
- Effective Management and Accessibility of Services
- Empowered Workforce
- Seamless Integration and Improved Business Models
Dropping the use of paper notes and picking up the pace of technology is the ideal path to accomplish the above-mentioned goals. A cloud-based solution that addresses the concerns of data, mobility, and convenience includes user-friendly mobile applications for workforce and patients along with a centralised case management platform to store patient information with role-based security.
Cloud solution providers like iTouchVision believe in developing bespoke solutions that allow storing electronic health records in a well-organised manner so that it is only available to the authorised staff. There is no data loss. It reduces the chances of manual errors or handwriting misinterpretations.
Repetitive tasks can be automated promoting effortless administration for the staff. NHS must also leverage mobile-working applications for the GPs and clinicians enabling them to access records 24/7 and patient monitoring for personalised and quality care. On the other side, self-service channels for patients will help them track their own data, book appointments, request services, and access to medical information for timely care.
It’s been four years since the NHS published the Five Year Forward View guiding the NHS trusts for future transformation. In a recent SolarWinds survey, it was found that 17 percent of responding NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups has no digital transformation strategy in place. And, 24% of them have only begun to plan a digital strategy. NHS needs to buck up and get going before it’s too late.
The cloud offers a bundle of opportunities to overcome the challenges faced by NHS. It opens the new possibilities of achieving efficient outcomes, enhanced care and sustains the public trust.
Our experience of working with healthcare professionals states that they are willing to take the digital route provided they have adequate support. They must have a clear understanding of how automation and technology will form a closed loop to aid the NHS processes. A digital awakening is on its way!