Deputy editor Angela Sharda asks our panel of experts how practices can go paperless and what are the next steps that practice managers need to take to achieve this.
Tracy Dell, practice manager, Plane Trees Group Practice
You need to audit how much paper you receive and generate in the practice and then locate the source of it. Most clinical correspondence is now received electronically but some practice staff still print it off to read, comment on, action or in some cases scan back into the system and save electronically.
Once you have assessed this you can devise a plan to reduce it. Papers can be shredded once scanned, filed and backed up in medical records systems which also reduces the need to store it.
Email can be used to save time and money. These systems are easy to install and user-friendly and can be configured to suit the practice as well as individual users.
Photocopying is also brings its own issues of paper wastage. Try scanning instead; saving and transmitting electronically where possible.
Daniel Vincent, practice manager and managing partner, Ryalls Park Medical Centre
We look forward to the organisations around us moving towards electronic distribution of correspondence. With their support the need to scan incoming documents could be almost eliminated.
As a practice we are looking towards new technology to support patients contacting using electronic means. The release of Accurx, which is also known as SMS messaging has been liberating for our practice.
We have been able to significantly reduce the number of ‘please contact the practice’ letters we would normally send in the post.
We look forward to being able to deliver extended secure messages in the future.
Clive Elliott, business partner, Court Street Medical Practice
We support going paperless as much as possible and digitising all records. The difficulties are really down to cost.
A sleight of hand in the new GP contract is the £20m towards the cost of subject access requests. This sounds like a great deal of money when said in one go but this equates to about £2,000 for a practice of our size, with a list size of 6,000 patients.