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.”