According to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, poor data practices are costing the NHS ‘billions’ every year. Hunt has set the NHS a target of ‘going paperless’ by the year 2013 – a move he says will significantly benefit healthcare here in the UK – but there are still those who, for whatever reason, remain resistant to the encroaches of progress. Perhaps it would help to illustrate some of the ways that automated data capture could benefit the NHS, in order to convert the uninitiated?
NHS data is often incredibly sensitive, and the last thing you want is for patients and fellow staff members to have their personal information exposed to prying eyes. Data breaches are a big problem in the UK and the majority of cases have incompetence or miscommunication at their heart. Digitised data is easier to manage, secure and protect than traditional printed data, so information security would become less of an issue were the NHS to go paperless.
Better time management
In some parts of the UK, doctor / patient ratios are less than ideal, and as a result, healthcare professionals have less time to spend one-on-one with their patients than they’d like. A huge amount of time is currently wasted searching through patient records and examining files – time that could be better spent with patients. Digitised data is easier to manage and quicker to bring to hand, meaning that should the NHS chose to go paperless, doctors, nurses and surgeons will be able to manage their time more effectively in future.
At the moment, there is no real standardised way of storing and disseminating information across UK healthcare institutions. Communication across different hospital, surgeries and care centres is poor, meaning that wires get crossed, balls get dropped and important details get missed. Automated data capture can be used to standardise data storage and processing across the NHS, improving communication and reducing the chance of human error in future.
Some patients have medical histories stretching back for many decades, and quite often, details of a patient’s medical past will determine the appropriate course of treatment they’ll require in the present day. At the moment, many healthcare institutions will have digitised a portion of their patient records but will have kept many older details stored on paper – this way, important information can easily be missed or even misplaced, to the detriment of the patient in question. Automated data capture processes can help to bring patient records up to date in an accurate, clear way, meaning you’ll be able to offer a higher quality of care to those who really need it.
Healthcare research is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century, as diseases like AIDs and cancer continue to blight lives and antibiotic resistant diseases begin to pose a threat to our existing treatments. If the NHS did go paperless, digitising all its data into a single, standardised system, intelligent software would be able to identify patterns suggestions that the human eye might miss. Digital data is one of the most powerful research tools available to us in the present day, and by failing to take advantage of it, the NHS could risk being left behind.
It’s natural that some people would be resistant to technology encroaching on what is essentially a human industry, but automated data capture can work to augment and enhance the abilities of Britain’s top medical minds, saving lives as well as money. If you’d like your healthcare institution to benefit from the positive influences of data, take a look at our range of automated data capture services and prepare your company for the needs and influences of the future.