South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) has become one of the first mental health trusts in the UK to go paper-less after digitising over 1.6 million documents in a drive to further enhance patient care.
The Trust, which provides mental health services across South Staffordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin as well as some specialist services in Birmingham, Liverpool and Cambridge, have completed the digitisation of all their patient records. The project, which began in 2013, means clinical staff no longer use paper-based patient records. As part of the project over 1,636,000 documents for 298,809 existing and historical patients were scanned and digitised.
Dr Abid Khan, Deputy Clinical Director at the Trust said: "I'm delighted we're one of the first mental health trusts to be truly paper-less. The scanning and digitisation of all our paper medical records means our clinical staff can access patient information more quickly thereby enhancing the healthcare we can provide at the point of care."
He added: "It also means the handling of sensitive information is greatly improved as we have removed the security risks from misplacing information which was historically stored in paper formats."
Access to online records is particularly vital for clinical teams providing support to patients within the community. Steve Hill, Operations Manager for Lichfield & Burntwood Community Mental Health Team who has over 35 years' experience as a community psychiatric nurse, said: "Staff now have online access to a patient's health record when they're working in the community which enables us to work more efficiently as we can input up to date information quickly and securely. Overall, I believe communication about patients has vastly improved."
As a result of the project, the Trust will also benefit from a number of savings year on year including reduced stationery, print and transportation costs as well as less storage space required to house paper-based records.
The Department of Health (DoH) issued a challenge to all NHS organisations to digitise their patient records online by 2015. The Trust is currently working with other healthcare providers in the region regarding plans for a joined up electronic health care record which the DoH wants live by 2017.