An NHS trust in the Midlands is planning to equip medical staff and community nurses with iPads to give real-time access to patient records on the move.
South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) is to digitise its paper-based library of medical records and provide staff with mobile devices to access the information from the bedside in hospitals or while in the community visiting patients at home.
Duncan Robinson, associate director of ICT at SWFT, said the plan will change the way staff work.
“Whether in an acute or community setting, there is significant duplication of information. Paper can’t be in two places at once. Ultimately, flexible, simultaneous electronic access to the latest patient information will free up clinical time and improve patient care,” he said.
The trust hopes to use other mobile functions such as online mapping, so district nurses can plan the best route for their rounds.
“Whether in the community or at the bedside, the aim is to be mobile,” said Robinson.
Implementation of the project began in January and is expected to last two years. By June, SWFT hopes to have installed a document management system from supplier Kainos, which will help the trust to scan its paper-based records into a database of electronic records. Kainos was chosen partly because it could demonstrate its mobile access to its software through an iPad, said Robinson.
The NHS is increasingly looking to mobile technology to improve patient care, particularly through greater use of telehealth for community care and patients to self-monitor their symptoms at home rather than take up valuable bed space in hospitals.
For example, earlier this year the Department of Health (DH) launched a programme called Three Million Lives, to bring together healthcare organisations and the IT industry to boost telehealth services. DH research suggests that three million people with long-term medical conditions could benefit from telehealth, potentially reducing NHS costs while allowing patients to remain at home rather than in hospital or care.
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