NHS IT, Records and Data

01.05.18

Havant MP leads calls for NHS to go fully digital, saving taxpayer ‘billions’

An MP has today published a report calling for the NHS to scrap paper forms of recording and go fully digital as part of the ‘fourth Industrial Revolution’ which would allow patients to take on more control of their treatment.

Havant MP Alan Mak, in his paper published by the Centre for Policy Studies, believes that the government has a “historic opportunity” to strengthen the NHS through removing the burden of paper reports and confirmations, adding that paperless systems must become the norm and not the exception.

Mak argues that pagers, fax machines and paper records must be replaced by integrated digital systems that provide patients and NHS staff with the latest medical data that can easily be stored and shared between GP surgeries, hospitals and other care providers.

The member of parliament for Havant in Hampshire also proposes that new application and messaging services be introduced to allow doctors and nurses to communicate more efficiently, and “NHS staff must be up-skilled to use new technologies as automation, virtual reality (VR) and personalised medicines become more commonplace.”

The report calls on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to set out three targets to be achieved by 2028; most notably to ensure that 100 per cent of interactions within the health service are digitally driven by 2028.

Whilst the potential for a fully digitised NHS is evident, many will look to previous high-profile data breaches in the health service’s IT systems (such as the loss of more than half a million patient files last year) as reason to remain on the more secure form of paper records.

However, the report argues: “The NHS must be frank with patients too: data breaches can happen and no single IT system is entirely safe, but that should not deter the NHS from creating centralised data centres.”

The report noted that the NHS should become a “world leader” in data safety.

In the report’s conclusion, Mak said: “There is no other sector or policy area where new technology has such unqualified transformative potential as in healthcare. Patients should have control over their health and wellbeing, be involved in every stage of their treatment, and have the facts and figures they need to make informed choices.

“A fully digital NHS will finally eliminate paper, saving the taxpayer billions of pounds a year through improved connectivity within the Health Service, resulting in better efficiency, care and health outcomes. If we seize those opportunities, we can build a country that is not just fit for the future, but one that gets to the future first.”

Secretary of state for the DHSC, Jeremy Hunt MP, writing the foreword for the paper, said: “Control will soon be at the fingertips of patients through smartphones and computers, while clinicians will be granted more freedom and assistance by the technologies at their disposal.

“My ambition is to harness that potential to ensure patients can benefit from a truly digital NHS, ushering in a new era of patient power.”

 

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