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Technology is the easy bit: Achieving a paperless NHS

27 September 2017

Following the Five Year Forward View and Personalised Health and Care 2020, we are transforming the way the health and social care sector works across multiple programmes.

The Child Protection Information Sharing project, the Electronic Prescription Service, Spine, NHSmail and the upcoming Health and Social Care Network to name a few, all play their part in helping to take the burden off the frontline.

Email spelt the beginning of the end of paper shuffling from surgery to office to hospital. And now instant messaging can deliver faster, more efficient communication between clinical colleagues on the frontline, giving more time to focus on patients.

Services such as Skype for Business (SfB) Instant Messaging, Presence and Audio & Video Conferencing feel like one of the next steps in this technological evolution for health and care professionals to embrace and exploit.

Community teams in Leeds trialed SfB where GPs, matrons, mental health workers etc. knew when colleagues were available due to ‘presence’ markers and could video call each other and share screens of patient notes, instead of meeting face to face.  This meant joint and informed decisions made collaboratively, on the move, without impeding on time and financial resources unnecessarily.

We also piloted video calling at the Royal Free Hospital in London, Dr Tim Yates said of the function “instead of submitting a paper request, acute colleagues could video call our neurologist, share brain images and get faster, better advice.” These case studies alone highlight the need for immediate information. No more waiting, no more time lost. It’s an entirely different mentality.

Having this access to information in real-time means more preparation, more bedside care, more time to complete CPD learning, more efficient diagnosis, and ultimately more time to focus on the things that really matter.

The future will enable GPs, district nurses, hospital staff, anyone who has been in contact with the patient, having their information as and when they need it. This includes the patient themselves as we’re aspiring to see more control handed back to the public for them to manage their own health through the NHS App, The Digital Tools Library and NHS.UK platforms.

However, while these progressions are a vast improvement on where we were there is still some way to go, and the rate of technology pick-up in our personal lives needs to be adapted to our professional lives.

This is more than just building the technology, but using it to the power to which it has been designed. It means a shift in the wider health and social care culture and attitude, which we all need to strive towards. This is the part I’m most excited for.

Last edited: 11 September 2018 10:08 am