Hospital trust lauds benefits of going paperless

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Going paperless is saving a hospital trust time and money.

A healthcare provider has been lauding the benefits of going paperless after being recognised for its efforts with an award.

Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has now completely replaced its paper medical records with an electronic system, well ahead of the government’s target of being paperless by 2018.

The trust provides accident and emergency care and a range of specialty services for more than 330,000 people in north Liverpool and it has now been given Computer Weekly’s enterprise software user award.

Consultant physician Mike Pearson said the hospital is using an innovative indexing system as opposed to simply scanning entire patient records, which means doctors are finding the new storage solution as easy to use as before.

"Notes are always available and we can find many results as quickly or faster than using paper," he commented.

Director of informatics at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust told Computer Weekly that document management had been an absolute nightmare, as ten miles’ worth of paper files had been accumulated.

"Like much of the NHS, we were bursting at the seams with paper. This is not an IT project, it is a business change project with an IT dimension," he added.

At one point, a new building had been planned with an entire floor earmarked for paper storage, but Mr Priestman pointed out that this would have cost £15 million and persuaded the trust’s managers to invest in electronic document management instead.

Now, clinicians can access records much more quickly and they can even pull them up at home to share information with junior doctors and students.

This elimination of paper health records in clinical practice should save the organisation £1 million a year, reduce time pressure on staff and save time, as people no longer have to move 4,200 patient files around each day.

In May this year, it was revealed that the NHS has set aside a fund of around £260 million for e-prescribing, which is aimed at using technology to prevent medicines being incorrectly handed out to patients in hospitals.

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