Paperless NHS 2020 countdown: Clinical engagement matters

Doctors talking

With the latest deadline for a paperless NHS now less than four years away, it’s worth taking a step back and trying to understand how we will know when we’ve achieved a state of paper-independence for England’s health service. Successive Health Secretaries have been vocal in challenging the NHS to be paperless, but have gone missing when it comes to defining what they mean by this.

So, what does “paperless” mean? How will we know when we’re there? And when we do get there, will all of our users be there with us?

The recent failure of the pathology system at a leading English hospital, and the consequences of having to rely on physical delivery of test results on paper, was a reminder of the impact that dependence on paper has on both healthcare providers and their patients. The provider processed information slowly, cancelled procedures, and delayed discharges.

Improving care

To improve care, staff members need instant access to information. Healthcare providers also need to become paper-independent in order to keep up with the increasing demands of an aging population.

After all, the goal of digital transformation “…is not digitisation for digitisation sake, but rather to improve the way care is delivered in the NHS, in part by using digital tools,” according to the Wachter Report on IT in the NHS.

In the end, we need to enable our clinicians to deliver better care to patients. That’s the goal.

Digitising paper to increase information access

Enterprise content management (ECM) technologies are an essential component of any digital transformation. By replacing paper forms with electronic forms and digitising paper at the point at which it enters a process, ECM ensures that clinicians are fully equipped with the information they need in order to deliver excellent care.

While it’s easy to focus on the technology, we need to remember that successful projects are projects that engage their end-users. Otherwise, it’s “Just the IT team imposing their new toys on us…”

Clinical engagement is tough to achieve. However, the rise of the Chief Clinical Information Officer role has made it more achievable. Having an individual who is deeply involved in day-to-day clinical activity and who works closely with the informatics team helps bridge the gap between the IT and clinical communities.

For technology providers, it is often easier to engage with the IT community than the clinical community. We speak the same language, and have a similar attitude to technology. This often reinforces the feeling that digital transformation is an IT project.

Engaging UK doctors and nurses for expert advice

As a leading ECM provider, Hyland has always had a strong cohort of clinicians on the staff who are able to act as a bridge between our own technical community and the clinical communities at our customers. Earlier this year, we expanded that team with a number of UK doctors and nurses.

By enabling better clinical conversations, we can increase the levels of clinical engagement throughout projects, and even before a procurement project has begun.

There are less than 1,200 days until the NHS’ “Paper Independence Day”. Business cases need to be written, processes need to be identified for improvement, finances need to be approved and solutions need to be procured and implemented.

That’s not much time, but with strong clinical engagement from the outset, it’s achievable.

If you’re at EHI Live, let’s keep the conversation going. Come find us in booth 1G60.

Steve Rudland

Steve Rudland

Steve Rudland has worked in the enterprise software industry since 1993, specialising in information sharing, process management, and collaboration technologies; specifically, their application in healthcare, social housing, and local government. As Customer Advisory & Consulting Lead at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Steve works with organisations across the continuum of care helping them to maximise their investment in OnBase technology to deliver safer patient care, whilst driving down costs and improving outcomes. Steve is based out of Hyland’s European HQ in London, and works with customers in England, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.

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