When I was young, I wanted to be a nurse… not an admin clerk!

Rachel Walker Destiny WirelessBy Rachel Walker, Head of Marketing at Destiny Wireless

The NHS is the perfect example of a sector which is undertaking a huge overhaul in terms of document management. The key element here is that it is a benefit to patient care and will mean staff spending more quality time with patients- rather than filling out time-consuming paperwork.

The £100 million Nursing Technology Fund was announced by David Cameron in October 2012 to help NHS Trusts in England implement new technologies that help front line nurses devote more time to patient care and less time on administration.

The first £30 million was released for the successful first round of applications last month and NHS Trusts have been granted funds to deploy technologies including mobile data capture solutions as well as other options that they believe will improve the efficiency of their nursing staff.

The second round of funding- £70 million – is due to be launched in June this year and this money will help Trusts to deploy technology which will help midwives and health visitors to spend more time on patient care and reduce administrative burdens such as re-keying data, scanning and other duplication of effort.

Currently, clinicians and midwives have to fill out paperwork with the patient and then take it back to the hospital to have it re-entered into a patient record system which can often result in errors or late entries. However, if done digitally, then patient data is available and uploaded immediately. This facilitates the transition from paper based record keeping to “paper-lite” and paperless systems, and is therefore a stepping stone in helping the NHS in its objective to go digital by 2018.

Making the announcement about the successful project, Beverley Bryant, Director of Strategic Systems and Technology at NHS England, said:

“This is about using modern technology to support and facilitate staff in providing compassionate and personalised nursing care.”

“It is about making life easier for staff – for example a digital pen can improve record keeping and reduce paperwork and a tablet or iPad can mean a community nurse can work on the go without needing to make as many trips back to the office, which means more time spent with patients. Also, mobile IT devices that can be used at the bedside puts valuable information at a nurses’ fingertips. This is ultimately about enabling nurses and midwives to improve the care they provide for patients.”

When Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced last year that he wanted to see a paperless health service by 2018, it raised a few eyebrows in some resource-stretched NHS IT departments. However, with the government funding and NHS Trusts’ around the country embracing technology to support these efficiency changes, we could see a ‘paper-lite’ NHS.

As well as converting all new documents to electronic format, Trusts will also have to look at their historic records, and decide how to incorporate them into their new systems.

From our experience in working with NHS Trusts, one common concern is how to get all their different systems ‘talking to each other’, as some Trusts have multiple systems that do not communicate with each other well, something which is crucial to achieving transparency of data for patients, as well as reducing duplication and lost records.

One thing is for sure, this is an excellent time for the NHS to look at digital data capture.

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