The NHS is going digital. Slowly. After spending billions of pounds on IT projects of variable success, the aim is now for the NHS to be largely paperless by 2023.
There is no doubt that the NHS needs to digitise its paper records, and it needs to link up the disparate computer systems that hold those records. General practice has already implemented electronic records, but hospitals are proving to be a bigger challenge.
To get an idea of what a paperless NHS might look like, you can turn to the US where electronic healthcare records in hospitals are now the norm. There have certainly been benefits (records are accessible and easy to read) but also, to borrow a medical phrase, side effects.
Warning: may cause productivity paradox
Hospitals rely heavily on people working together and sharing information, but doctors feel isolated when stuck in front of a computer monitor, often tucked away in an office. Here they are less likely to have informal conversations with other healthcare professionals – the sorts of conversations that keep a ward ticking along.
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