Only one in ten NHS Trusts are fully digitized

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The UK government is aiming for a Paperless NHS by 2020 but new research from OpenText has revealed that many NHS Trusts are falling behind with only one in ten (12%) being fully digitized.

The company obtained this new data by issuing a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to 74 NHS Trusts across the UK, thought only 52 responded.

Back in January, the UK government announced its new NHS Long Term Plan with the intention of addressing the healthcare system's lack of interoperability in hopes to improve the quality of patient care and healthcare outcomes in the UK. Under the plan, all secondary healthcare providers are required to transition to digital records by 2023 to ensure that clinicians can access and interact with patient records and care plans no matter where they are.

However, the new data obtained by OpenText shows there is still progress to be made with just 37 percent of responding Trusts stating that over half of their patient records have been digitized. Surprisingly, only 23 percent of NHS Trusts confirmed that 76-99 percent of their patient records, including scans, letters, notes and results, are currently digitized.

Digitizing patient records

Under the FoI request, respondents were asked to confirm the number of paper-based patient records they collected in Q4 2018. Of the 52 NHS Trusts surveyed, 69 percent were unable to provide an answer to this question and only 16 Trusts (31%) were able to provide this information. During Q4 2018, these NHS Trusts alone created over 1.7m paper-based records.

However, the majority (62%) of these Trusts, do have plans to digitize all patient records with 12 percent already fully digitized and a further 21 percent aim to become fully digitized within the next one to two years.

Additionally one in five (21%) Trusts plan to become paperless within the next three to four years in accordance with the new government guidelines.

Head of UK public sector at OpenText, Tracey Lethbridge explained how a one patient, one record environment can help NHS Trusts manage digital patient data, saying:

“With new Government guidelines in place, the ultimate goal is to empower healthcare organisations to evolve working practices and provide better patient care whilst reducing costs. One way to achieve this is to take a digital approach to information management. Through the creation of a “one patient, one record” environment, NHS clinicians can easily access the necessary information – regardless of where it is and in what form – to more effectively commission and monitor services that reflect the needs of patients. Ultimately, accurate and timely patient data is at the heart of delivering quality care and will ensure all front-line care staff can access this information where and when it is needed, boosting their productivity and enabling them to help more patients, more quickly.”