Magazine article American Nurse Today

Paperless in the United Kingdom: National Health Service Goal for 2018

Magazine article American Nurse Today

Paperless in the United Kingdom: National Health Service Goal for 2018

Article excerpt

Nurses on the front line of care in the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom (UK) are acutely aware of the pressures facing the health service. Rising demand for services (particularly emergency services) and a tight financial environment mean we all need to do more with less.

We're also well aware of the impact these pressures place on our daily jobs and ability to spend valuable time with patients. To maintain a focus on quality, last year NHS England launched the "Compassion in Practice" nursing and midwifery strategy. This brought together the "6 Cs"--care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, and commitment--as the underpinning values of the profession.

Given this pressured environment, why did UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in January set out his priority for the NHS to be paperless by 2018? The answer is simple: Only by embracing technology can the NHS meet the challenges it faces over the next decade and beyond.

While the history of health information technology (HIT) in the NHS is a complicated one, there's no doubt that technology has the potential to contribute directly to improvements in care. Technology can free up nursing time by digitizing such processes as early warning scores, nurse rounding, device integration, digital pens for the community, and supporting communication between clinicians. What's more, the simple act of capturing patient information on an electronic rather than paper record means patients' details and medical history can be made available to clinicians at the point of care easily and accurately. Earlier this year, NHS England detailed a vision for making an integrated digital care record for each patient available across the NHS--one that reinforces the active role nurses must play in embracing technology to capture and share patient information electronically. …

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