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Nearly half of NHS CIOs concerned about paperless 2020 target

While most agree that electronic patient records are beneficial, nearly half of NHS CIOs are worried about meeting NHS England’s mandate of going paperless by 2020, according to a survey

A large number of healthcare CIOs are unsure they will be able to meet the target of being paperless at the point of care by 2020.

A survey by iGov, on behalf of Opentext, found 46% of NHS CIOs are concerned they won’t be able to meet the target set out by NHS England.

The ambitious target states that all NHS organsiations must be paperless at the point of care, with integrated electronic patient records in place by 2020.

Originally, health secretary Jeremy Hunt had set a target for the NHS to be paperless by 2018, but this was later revised in NHS England’s Personal Health and Care framework, published in November 2014.

The survey, which asked 115 NHS trusts about their readiness for a paperless NHS, found that 39% said they had yet to digitise patient records.

They cited lack of suitable technology and in-house skills as barriers to going paperless, with 75% also saying that budget restrictions were also a problem.

NHS England has promised a £1.8bn in funding for going paperless, split between £900m in capital investment, available to frontline NHS services, with £400m in revenue funding to support the running costs of the investment.

The funds are likely to come through another technology fund, based on local sustainability and transformation plans, which health and care organisations must submit by the end of June 2016.

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Sitting under the sustainability and transformation plans are the local digital roadmaps that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have been asked to submit, which explains how CCGs are going to make sure everyone in their health economy are paperless and interoperable by 2020.

Commenting on the survey, vice-president of sales UK at OpenText Mark Bridger said it’s not too late for organisations to start implementing digital strategies.

“My advice would be to think about how your organisation is going to manage all this new data created in a digital healthcare system beyond 2020,” he said.

“Take a step back to see the enterprise as a whole – identify where the paper is, engage all members of staff at all levels and think about process flows.”

The survey also found 70% of people surveyed said there is scope for wearable technologies to be used, and 55% plan to scale up the use of mobile and wearables in their NHS trusts.

NHS innovation “test beds”, launched by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, are already trialling the use of wearables.

One of those test beds is an IoT collaboration between Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS trust and a number of health tech providers to help people with dementia live at home for longer. 

Individuals and carers will be given wearables, monitors and other devices to help them take control over their own health and enable staff to deliver responsive services.

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