Thursday 17 January 2013

Government announces a ‘paperless’ NHS could save £4billion

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that going paperless would save the NHS £4billion, improve services and help meet the challenges of an ageing population.
In a speech to the Policy Exchange today, the Health Secretary described the benefits that would be brought by improved used of digital technology, highlighted in two separate reports.

These benefits include: savings of over £4billion, freeing up professionals’ time to spend caring for patients, and giving patients more options alongside visiting a surgery in person.

The Health Secretary outlined the following advances which could be made:
  • Secure online health records - enabling individuals to access data held about them easily
  • Paperless referrals – instead of sending a letter when referring a patient, the GP could send an email to the hospital they are referring the patient to
  • Secure linking up of electronic health and care records plus the ability for records to ‘follow individuals’ (with their consent) throughout the NHS or social care system – ensuring that all medical and care professionals involved in a patient’s care have access to their medical history and can easily but securely share knowledge across the system to improve the care a patient receives
The Health Secretary said of these advances:

“The NHS cannot be the last man standing as the rest of the economy embraces the technology revolution. It is crazy that ambulance drivers cannot access a full medical history of someone they are picking up in an emergency – and that GPs and hospitals still struggle to share digital records.

“Previous attempts to crack this became a top down project akin to building an aircraft carrier. We need to learn those lessons – and in particular avoid the pitfalls of a hugely complex, centrally specified approach. Only with world class information systems will the NHS deliver world class care.”

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