Andrew Frost discusses how health organisations can begin to adapt a paperless future.
In a technology-driven world, healthcare organisations are facing repeated pressure to go paperless, digitising all forms of day-to-day services and applications. And as the NHS’ 2018 modernisation deadline looms ever closer, the health sector is beginning to focus on a paperless future in order to cut costs, improve patient experiences and ensure medical compliance.
Making the leap
Doctors and nurses are already beginning to input and retrieve digital information through mobile devices, with the aim of improving care through the process of streamlining patient data.
The prospect of going digital can be a daunting one for traditional healthcare providers who have become long accustomed to the more traditional pen and paper method of note taking. It’s no surprise, therefore, that healthcare is one of the last sectors to place its trust in IT, with online banking and shopping paving the way for a revolutionised way of doing business.
Admittedly, the initial changeover period isn’t always completely seamless. However, the benefits that the NHS will reap from the digital revolution in the long term will certainly make up for a tough “bedding in” period.
Blue sky thinking
The answer to a paperless future is arguably in the cloud. Cloud computing offers an effective way of storing shared resources and information over the internet. It acts as a virtual filing cabinet which is secure, yet easily accessible to those who need it and, most importantly, cost-effective.
In a health setting, cloud-based document management can be utilised for anything from the storage of electronic health records, to X-Ray scans and staff payroll information.
Just one example of cloud computing’s potential to improve healthcare, is the instantaneous relay of patient information to identify a potentially deadly allergy to prescribed medication. This can be done simply from a handheld tablet device; significantly improving what would usually be a very time consuming process involving numerous members of staff and a rigid security protocol to locate and communicate such information.
In patient care terms, the time saved could literally be the difference between life and death.
For smaller health organisations, such as GP or dental practices, the cloud is also a great supporter of business growth. Moving offices, merging with other healthcare providers and setting up new practices from scratch can all be done with minimal interference thanks to cloud computing and the absence of transporting an abundance of paper records.
Busting the jargon
One of the big modernisation turnoffs is the introduction of new and complicated-sounding terminology. The numerous acronyms associated with cloud computing such as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service) can be confusing. Understandably, this jargon is hard for some organisations to get their head around, but ultimately, the key principles remain the same. Cloud computing encompasses the components required to store data and run applications within an enterprise.
Healthcare organisations will have no choice but to go digital in the future, so it makes sense that they embrace the possibilities it has to offer by researching the best solution to meet their respective needs.