What is the NHS paperless target?

The NHS are committed to their target of becoming paperless by 2020, but what impact will it have on NHS trusts? 

The NHS has been tasked with making £22billion in efficiency savings by 2020. Part of that includes a drive towards creating a paperless NHS. But is this possible and what does that mean in reality for clinical pharmacies? 

A lot of the media coverage has centred around creating electronic patient records – unsurprising as this is the most visible part of the digital health service. In addition to this, there’s a much wider implication that impacts on the myriad sources of information currently documented on paper. 

For clinical pharmacists, one of the challenges of the paperless objective is transposing the sheer volume of paperwork currently in operation into digital platforms. 

Which digital options are there? Where are they sourced from? What are the considerations in updating core systems? 

The Integrated Digital Care Fund was set up by NHS England to support the progression from paper-based clinical recordkeeping to integrated digital care records. It has helped speed up the implementation of systems in hospitals across the country. Transaction times are reduced and there is a general sense that this has also reduced errors. 

How can this apply to other areas of clinical pharmacy? 

Since 2005, clinical audits have been a contractual obligation for all community pharmacists. Indeed, today, all healthcare professionals are expected to be involved in clinical audit work. Traditionally this would involve completing paperwork and filing manually. As we move to the paperless target within the NHS, more and more pharmacists understand the need to move to a digital system. 

Here are some of the core advantages to moving towards digital clinical audits: 

1.       Reduces costs – using less paper reduces cost of paper, but also any efficiencies gained in terms of time also reduces costs. 

2.       Reduces time spent on audits – paper inevitably increases the time spent on producing and delivering audits. Digital audits are saved electronically and can be transferred without the need for physical transfers. 

3.       Safer data security – data from audits cannot get lost in transit. Electronic systems, such as ours at We Love Surveys, are stored securely in the cloud using the latest data security protocols. 

4.       Less wastage – when the information required inevitably changes, electronic audits can be adapted quickly and easily to ensure the latest information is captured. 

5.       Improved patient experience – one of the chief reasons to move towards digital is to improve the existing patient experience. Although clinical audits may not impact the patient directly, the net effect of all process improvements and efficiencies is to improve the overall level of service delivered to the patients and the NHS as a whole. 

With all technology implementations, there are a number of challenges along the way that are important to consider: 

·         Cost of the new system – how much will the initial outlay be and when will you expect to see a return on the investment? 

·         Training needs of staff – each staff member conducting audits will need suitable training on any new system 

·         Change management – any new system that requires change to someone’s working practices can cause disruption 

Fortunately, any outlay for our audit software is recovered within a few months of installation. Time saved, reduction in consumables such as paper are reaped early in the process.

While training staff on any new system can take time, and does require leadership, our technology has been designed with the user in mind and makes the process of taking and submitting audits easy. Our team is ready to support yours to understand how to get the most from your digital audits. 

For more information on how your pharmacy can start the process of moving your audits to a digital platform and contribute positively to the NHS Paperless target, please contact us on 0203 747 5730