Saving lives with paperless medical records

August 15th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management

Healthcare professionals have been increasingly moving their records to digital platforms, as these enterprise content management systems streamline operations and allow doctors to provide the best possible care to their patients. However, in addition to improving organization and services, opting for electronic recordkeeping platforms may actually help healthcare providers to avoid preventable deaths. 

According to The British Journal of Healthcare Computing, health secretary Jeremy Hunt believes that Britain's National Health Service's (NHS) failure to implement a digital system for records is directly leading to patient deaths. He stated that eliminating paper is no longer an option for the NHS, but a necessary change to modernize the system and improve services. 

"It's an absolute fundamental [of quality healthcare]," Hunt said, according to the source. "I want the NHS to go paperless by 2018, with electronic records that [they] can navigate anywhere."

The source reported that in some cases, the records of British patients take up to six months to move from one practitioner's office to another. Deploying paperless systems would make that process nearly instantaneous, which would eliminate what Hunt called "scandalous" waste. 

Public Service reported that in addition to improving the speed and quality of care, opting for paperless records would simply make patients' lives easier. With electronic documents, individuals would no longer find themselves repeating their medical history numerous times – sometimes during the same hospital visit. 

While the news source noted that some healthcare providers have already begun digitizing their records, some clinicians are resisting the new technology. They fear that introducing a new platform would disrupt day-to-day operations and be difficult to learn. However, Public Service noted that using a document conversion service to transfer files to a digital format will ultimately accelerate patient care by cutting waiting list times and reducing the time spent sifting through paper notes. 

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