NHS IT decision makers worry about meeting 2020 paperless deadline

A survey has revealed that nearly half of NHS IT decision makers have concerns over whether the NHS will meet its deadline for going paperless in 2020.

With the deadline to meet the government’s paperless healthcare initiative looming, OpenText has surveyed respondents from 115 NHS trusts and organisations, using iGov Survey, about whether they feel ready for 2020.

Nearly half of CIOs and directors (46%) are concerned over whether they can meet the government deadline in less than four years’ time, with two-fifths (39%) of respondents reporting that patient records are not currently digitised within their organisation.

However, the majority of respondents (78%) said that digitising patient records would benefit their organisation. Access to data and information from any location, at any time, and on any device (30%) and the ability to access data and information faster (31%) were cited as the main benefits.

Furthermore, it is clear that mobile and wearable technology is key to future strategy and unlocking these benefits. 70% of NHS organisations stated there is scope for wearables to be introduced in the coming years, and over half (55%) plan to increase the use of mobile and/or wearable technology used by staff members.

Yet despite this, there were several barriers to implementing a ‘paperless environment’ including:

  • A lack of suitable technology already within our organisation (49%)
  • A lack of in-house skills to implement a ‘paperless’ initiative (56%)
  • Budget restrictions (75%)

“The plan to have a fully paperless health service by 2018 is a very ambitious goal to strive for, even if ultimately it cannot be achieved by that time,” said Julian Cook, director of UK business, M-Files. “With huge swathes of documentation requiring differing levels of security and protection, it will be vital both for the NHS and its patient’s peace of mind that an effective document management system is in place to ensure sensitive information does not fall into the wrong hands.

“It will not be enough to just digitise all patient records and declare the NHS paperless. There are plenty of other areas that need to dispense with paper in order to make this project a success. Areas such as administration and the back office are heavily entrenched in paper and can slow down many of the vital behind the scenes actions that contribute to a smooth running healthcare system. It will be vital that the systems leveraged for making the transition are simple, easy for employees to use and easy to configure and update for IT departments.”

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