The NHS would be “crazy” not to try and realise the cost savings available through greater use of technology, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has told HSJ.

He also suggested that technology adoption would form a central part of the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention programme. “We haven’t got to the stage of calling it technology QIPP, but we should think along those lines”, he suggested.

Mr Hunt said: “At a time when many other parts of the economy are transforming their efficiency through the use of technology, the NHS could and should do the same. The banking sector has cut the cost of retail banking by a third as a result of getting many people to bank online, including 40 per cent of pensioners. What you get with technology is a double bonus. You get cost savings for the provider and improved service for the user and the NHS would be crazy not to try and exploit that.”

Asked for an example of how technology could boost NHS efficiency, he said: “Having an electronic patient record that could follow you anywhere in the system would be totally transformative in terms of the care people receive and if people receive the right care it also reduces cost for the NHS because it reduces the number of unplanned admissions. It means that particularly the frail elderly will have a more integrated service where every part of the system knows everything about them. The fact [someone is] a complex case - with diabetes, mild dementia, who had a heart bypass a couple of years ago – [will be] properly known [and mean] they can get the care they need which means they can stay living at home longer then otherwise would be the case.”

He said it was up to the NHS Commissioning Board to introduce the required incentives and penalties to drive technology uptake.

Mr Hunt claimed there was “no lack of willingness to embrace” this change and claimed that “large parts of the system have expressed a large sigh of relief that the government is championing this agenda, because they see how technology has transformed their lives in so many other areas they can’t understand why there’s so much paperwork in hospitals.”

However, the health secretary admitted the NHS would not be “paperless” by 2015 and said he was still searching for an answer as to when that would be possible. “But, he said, “we will make very, very clear progress and it will be progress the public can see and feel in the way they interact with the NHS.”