Out-Law News 1 min. read

Electronic patient record system launched in Cambridgeshire hospitals in drive towards 'paperless' NHS

A new electronic system for managing patient data has been launched at two hospitals in Cambridgeshire in a move which will eventually see the hospitals operate on a paperless basis.

The 'eHospital' system went live for the first time on Sunday at Addenbrooke's and Rosie hospitals.

The system has been designed to help health care workers deliver "more efficient, effective treatment" and will see staff access and input information about patients electronically, including via their own devices, the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) said.

"There have been significant changes to mobile technology across industry and the healthcare system must keep up," CUH said. "4,500 new HP computers have been installed. Nurses have access to 500 iPod Touch devices which have been adapted to include barcode scanners to measure blood pressure and run other tests. In total approximately 7,000 devices, including some of the previous computer hardware, will be running the electronic patient record software. Nurses, doctors and other medical staff will also be able to use their own smartphones. All data will be encrypted and no information will be stored on the devices."

CUH said that eHospital was tested in the two hospitals earlier this year and that hospital staff have received a total of nearly 200,000 hours of training on how to use the new system. It said eHospital will help address problems associated with paper-based records.

"Errors generated by bad handwriting will be eliminated, allergies and drug dosages will be flagged automatically, making a consistent record which all clinicians can refer to safely," it said.

Paper records at the two hospitals are not being immediately discarded. Over the next year paper-based records are to be added to eHospital. More than 2.1 million patient records have been added to the system already and staff at the hospitals have been asked to identify notes that need to be "scanned and transferred" to the new system in the next 12 months.

CUH said eHospital "meets the toughest highest standards of information security" and that steps are in place to ensure information stored on the new system is protected by access controls.

"Effective care is dependent on clinical and patient administrative teams having fast access to the information they need when they need it and in us ensuring that your whole care team is working with the same, most up to date information," CUH said. "We will ensure your privacy by keeping an audit trail of all accesses to the information we hold about you and enforcing our strict rules on who is allowed to access to that information."

Health expert Barry Francis of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “Large scale IT systems in the NHS do not have a strong track record but a well organised system focussed on specific organisations with an effective change management programme would be hugely beneficial."

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