Calls for the government to push ahead with an aggressive rollout of real-time electronic patient records were reignited today after a survey of doctors found that 50 per cent believed the technology would improve patient care in the UK.
The research, carried out among 409 hospital doctors, found that information sharing was critical to improving patient care, boosting efficiency and ensuring a smooth transition as patients are referred through different parts of the healthcare system.
More than a third of respondents said they are unable to locate key patient information at least once a day, according to research conducted by GS1 UK, the not-for-profit data standards organisation and Hospital Dr, a daily information service for all doctors working in secondary care. Of those, 19 per cent are unable to locate this vital information several times a day.
Nearly half (48 per cent) of doctors feel that the use of electronic patient records would improve the quality of care, as it would provide verifiable, consistent and complete data to support verbal handovers between medical staff.
When asked about which technological innovations would be of the greatest benefit in helping them perform their roles more effectively, the top three cited were access to real-time electronic patient records, access to real-time views of stock levels of medical supplies and medicine, and bar-coded wristbands to accurately identify patients and provide essential care records.
“As the new government defines its policy for health service provision, some of the key priorities seem to relate to increasing efficiency and measuring the outcome of treatment rather than the number of cases handled,” said Gary Lynch, chief executive of GS1 UK.
“The feedback from hospital doctors is that patient care would improve and medical staff would be able to work more efficiently with greater access to and sharing of information electronically,” Lynch added.
Mike Broad, editor of HospitalDr.co.uk, said: “It’s clear from this survey that technology has an important role to play in improving efficiency and patient care. But it’s astonishing that we still cannot provide our clinicians with the real-time electronic patient data they need to manage patients expediently,” Broad said.
“Investment in appropriate technology, and the removal of worst policy excesses, would be a significant step towards the new government’s stated aim of freeing up the NHS to deliver better results,” he added.