A communications, managed print and IT services provider has claimed that hospitals will need to win the “hearts and minds” of staff if they are to be paperless by 2018.
Annodata made the comments following an indication from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that £1.5bn of additional funding allocated to the NHS in 2015/16 will be contingent on hospitals providing plans to become more “efficient and sustainable” by committing to his paperless policy.
In January 2013, Hunt challenged NHS Trusts to scrap paper for digital alternatives by 2018, a plan which Annodata supports and calls “noble” from an environmental and financial point of view.
“Having worked extensively with Health Trusts in the past and seen first-hard the efficiencies that can be achieved through a centralised print and document management, we know that there are vast swathes of the NHS that are ripe for modernisation,” claimed the firm’s head of professional services Andrew Smith.
“This initiative therefore has our full support and with the correct partners and advisors, we believes it’s achievable – but there’s no denying that the challenge ahead in a formidable one.
Smith claims that even the “leanest” of SMEs would be challenged when going paperless, let alone a hospital that employs hundreds of staff.
He believes that the shift required in working practices is as much organisational as cultural, so the “hearts and minds” of staff and getting them on board must be a priority.
“Without these, any drive to go paperless wouldn’t even get off the ground. With any change to process, adaptions to existing cultures and work practices are required, but when implemented in the correct way, we believe cultures can be developed and enhanced rather than changing and disrupting the overall ethos,” Smith claimed.
“There are many reservations surrounding a paperless environment so it’s important to clearly set out the environmental imperatives and the efficiency benefits it will bring to staff.
“You need to understand why and how staff use paper and bring in viable alternatives that won’t negatively impact daily operations,” he added.