The NHS has announced plans to give patients direct access to appointments, test results and x-rays.
According to the Health Secretary, the implementation of a paperless NHS system would save £10bn and turn the NHS into a ‘world class showcase’.
The new plans will give parents access to their children’s illness and vaccination records, on smartphones.
Patients will have the opportunity to add comments to doctors’ notes, and those with terminal illnesses will have the opportunity to state their wishes about where they want to die, to allow healthcare staff access when their condition worsens.
A promise has been made that all patients will have access to doctor’s records during next year. However, it goes beyond that by promising that by 2018, patients will be able to access online availability of hospital records.
This new system, which offers patients to see every detail about the state of their health, will give them the opportunity to take more control over their condition and share the records with others.
The website will allow patients to search for test results, order repeat prescriptions, book medical appointments and examine scans.
Further proposals include the abolition of the use of paper in A&E departments by 2018 and the application of an NHS verification system to third-party health apps which could then be prescribed by doctors.
Healthcare systems in every part of the world are feeling the strain of aging populations and the increase in chronic illnesses, such as dementia, diabetes and heart disease. Experts state that technology can play a huge role in addressing this challenge by the reduction of staff, allowing people to personalise the method of treatments they receive, and using data obtained from smartphones and wearable devices to identify possible problems.
Although this all sound very high-tech and user-friendly, the NHS will have to gain the public’s trust again as they do not have a very successful record of implementing and managing IT projects. The service delayed the implementation of Care.data earlier this year as there were public concerns regarding privacy of information and the amount of information being handed out.
The director of patients and information at the National Information Board (NIB), Tim Kelsey, said the NHS has learnt this ‘top-down approach’ is a mistake and the new framework will include the appointment of a new ‘National Data Guardian’.
He said that in many instances, recording events on paper was ‘dangerous, disrespectful and very expensive’ because patients and carers were duplicating tasks. He stated that district nurses spend only 21% of their time with patients because of the huge paperwork load.
The NIB is still in the process of calculating the upfront costs of all these changes and a total amount will be announced during April 2015.
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