A hospital trust has taken a step towards introducing paperless patient notes – a move which will ultimately make health records more secure and accessible.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is gradually introducing a new electronic document management system across all of its wards at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
First to benefit from the digital software will be children’s services which will start to pilot the new digital e-forms from today (Tuesday 19 September).
The Evolve Clinical Noting system will eventually replace all healthcare records at the trust. Clinicians will still have access to past paper records, but any new information will go into the electronic system so they can securely access it instantly from any NHS site.
There are a number of benefits for patients including:
- It’s more secure – staff can only access the system if they have an account. Privileges are set to allow the right people to add or view the digital notes
- It’s live – information entered about patients is instantly available to clinicians
- It’s efficient – using the system will speed up our administrative processes and over time will give patients a more coordinated service
- It improves reporting – in time we will be able to quickly share information by email with GPs and local care providers
Consultant in anaesthesia and critical care and clinical project lead Ian Whitehead said it will improve the delivery of patient care and transform the working lives of staff.
“Patient records are currently paper based and can be located across numerous places in our hospitals or community health services,” he said. “This can often mean that the complete picture of a patient’s health and care is not immediately available to a clinician at the point of care.
“Evolve will enable colleagues to have access to all the information they need at all times and in all locations, with the digital record available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a stepping stone toward a complete electronic record.”
As part of the project 1.5 million case notes have been digitally created and 18 months of historic letters are being migrated into the system. Any paper documentation that is received in future will be scanned onto the system.
Clinical noting project manager Lisa Lizzio said there should be no major impact for patients as staff have had appropriate training, but it may take a little longer than usual to undertake some administrative tasks for the first few weeks while staff familiarise themselves with the new system.
She said: “It has taken a lot of hard work to ensure we are delivering a system that is safe and fit for purpose but it’s very exciting to be able to roll this out across our hospitals starting with our children’s services.
“Over time patients will see a more streamlined service with clinicians having improved access to clinical records.”