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Patient data ‘overhaul’ needed

14 November 2013

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The NHS must “radically overhaul” the way it collects data if patients are to be treated safely and effectively, a report from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges claims. 

Seven key challenges for achieving better use of technology are set out in the report. 

For example, the group believes that patient records should be the cornerstone of integrated patient care. 

Patient record systems should be focused on the individual, not on the disease, intervention, service or the organisation in which the patient is seen, in order to provide an integrated picture of their problems and the care they receive. 

Examples of good practice were found in general practice, hospitals and clinics, but the researchers found the system was too often focused on the illness rather than the patient. 

In some cases, even electronic data transfer remains stuck in the 1990s, with some GPs unable to receive an email which is larger than 5mb. The result, all too often is poorer and less effective patient care and greater costs to the NHS as information is sent by post, courier or sometimes even via the patients themselves.

Professor John Williams, director of the Royal College of Physicians Health Informatics Unit, said: “Today’s NHS information systems are way off the mark. This document sets out how we can realise the technology revolution.         

“The Francis Report and Berwick Review both identified that the NHS has lost its way, and must be reoriented to deliver patient-focused, compassionate, safe care. Central to achieving this is the availability of real-time accurate information that focuses on the patient.”