U.K. to implement electronic patient records
U.K. citizens soon will be able to access their health records electronically. As part of the U.K.’s National Heath Service (NHS) initiative, tests are being conducted to determine the best way to enable patients to access their records.
Currently, the NHS faces a huge challenge in dealing with growing volumes of data, and it warned that the amount of paper produced by NHS is increasing at a substantial rate. According to research from U.K. document management specialist Elision, 13.5 billion pieces of paper currently are stored as patient records across primary and secondary care in the NHS.
The electronic health records strategy forms a key part of the government’s L2.3 billion ($3.69 billion U.S.) nation-al program to overhaul the NHS’ information technology. Under the plan, electronic patient records will be implemented in all primary care trusts and hospitals by December 2007.
Document management will be crucial in helping the NHS meet its goal of implementing electronic health records, said Murray Bywater, managing director of IT healthcare specialist Silicon Bridge Research. “If you scan the paper records, they can then be attached in digital format to the computer record,” he said.
Patients would be able to access their electronic health records before or after an office visit, surgery, or other procedure, giving them more control and responsibility over their health decisions. Health professionals could have access to an individual’s health information at the touch of a button, which will improve information sharing between doctors and nurses.
Ways to ensure records are kept secure are also being tested, the NHS said. For example, some patients at Bury Knowles Health Centre in Oxford tested a special mouse that reads a fingerprint to confirm a patient’s identity before granting that user access.
The NHS intends to provide every person in the country with his or her own electronic health record by March 2005.
Copyright Association of Records Managers and Administrators Jul/Aug 2003
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