The continued use of paper on hospital wards means that paper will remain a key part of the health service, according to a speaker at yesterday’s Westminster Health Forum.
The aim of the forum was to discuss the implementation of electronic health records in the NHS, but Emma Stockwell, a partner in the Health Business Group for law firm Hill Dickinson is sceptical about how long it will take to achieve a paperless NHS.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced last year that he aimed for the NHS to entirely replace physical information with digital and electronic alternatives by 2018.
Despite this, the health service seems to be meeting a number of problems in reaching this paperless target - earlier last month, research firm TechUK released a study that concluded that acceleration is needed within the NHS if it is going to be paperless by 2018.
Now, Stockwell has joined the voices doubting the paperless agenda, claiming that there are a number of barriers that make the goal unattainable within the four-year time frame.
“Many NHS bodies that I work with at the moment have a dual system of paper records, which I’m sure most [health] organisations currently do,” she said.
“Until there’s actually a system to be able to create electronic records on the ward, you are going to have this dual system potentially for some years,” she added.
Stockwell also noted that running paper and electronic systems alongside each other runs the risk of losing critical medical information and this could potentially lead to clinicians having to rely on incomplete data – presenting risks for a patient.