A new study suggests that digital technology is helping the NHS save money and increase patient care.
This is according to a new report, commissioned by the Department of Health from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which 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.
In fact the report says that a potential £4.4 billion per year could be reinvested in improving care by making better use of information and technology.
However, PwC warns that “significant further work is required to further substantiate some of the evaluations of potential benefit, and especially the evaluations of potential financial benefit”. It added that this work should be completed before the broad implementation of the recommended actions commences.
Among the positive cases highlighted in the report 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% of patients preferred the new online process to the traditional pen and paper method.
The report also makes mention that Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals brought in an electronic prescribing system, which meant that the accuracy of prescriptions was increased and they estimated the system could reduce potential adverse reactions to drugs by up to 60 per cent.
The report was asked to highlight the potential benefits that could be achievable through the more efficient and effective use of information and technology in the NHS and social care before any action is taken. The review was completed between the 17 December 2012 and the 14 January, 2013.
This comes in the same week that the health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the UK Government’s continued push to have the NHS go paperless by 2018, and his plans to allow all medical records to go digital by 2015.
For the full report, go here.