Greater use of information and digital technology in the NHS and social care will bring benefits to patients and staff according to a new study.
The study by Price Waterhouse Coopers, ommissioned by the Department of Health, found that measures such as more use of text messages for negative test results, electronic prescribing and electronic patient records could improve care, allow health professionals to spend more time with patients and save billions of pounds.
The report says that a potential £4.4billion per year could be reinvested in improving care by making better use of information and technology.
Examples of the benefits available include the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital which conducted a trial of a system that asks spinal surgery patients to record their progress on an iPad while in hospital, then at home through an online system after being discharged. This created an estimated 300 new outpatient appointment slots per consultant surgeon per year – 95 per cent of patients preferred the new online process to the traditional pen and paper method.
The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals Trust trialled a computerised paperless system on its haematology and dermatology wards. This meant that professionals could see GP referral letters, letters from clinics, test orders and X-rays. They found that they could save 30 minutes in a three and a half to four hour clinic.
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals brought in an electronic prescribing system which meant that the accuracy of prescriptions was radically increased and they estimated the system could reduce potential adverse reactions to drugs by up to 60 per cent.
The report can be downloaded here.