Paper records and other forms of unstructured data contain hugely valuable information. Trusts should be planning to capture and use it to meet covid and ‘reset’ challenges by deploying a modern electronic document management system, says Mike Seel

Whenever the subject of NHS IT comes up, it’s not long before people start talking about the need to “move away from paper”. At one time, the NHS even had a “paperless” challenge.

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Yet paper records contain a huge amount of information, which means that they have value. A fundamental challenge is to release their valuable information for clinical care, operational decision making and, eventually, population health management; and this is what MediViewer does.

MediViewer is a cloud-based and on premise electronic document management system that uses the latest data automation and analysis tools to help trusts locate, display and analyse unstructured information, at whatever point they have reached on their digital journey.

Preparing for EPR: A significant minority of NHS trusts are still using older administrative systems with limited clinical functionality. Trusts in this position can store all their unstructured data in a single place to make sure their clinicians have access to scanned records and other unstructured data sources at the point of care.

Supporting remote consultations: The NHS response to the coronavirus pandemic has seen a rapid increase in remote working and digital consultations. However, getting paper records to consultants working from home is expensive and poses significant information governance challenges.

A trust in London has addressed this problem by setting up a scan on demand service to digitise the records needed for outpatient clinics. These are available to clinicians via MediViewer on any device and from anywhere with a secure internet connection.

This is the moment for boards to revisit their IT strategies, and to ask where a next-generation electronic document management system will work for them

Supporting EPR with insights from historical records: Trusts that have deployed an electronic patient record will hold valuable information in paper records and legacy IT. MediViewer can be used to “documentise” unstructured data in legacy systems, so it can be used to augment the core patient record for both clinical care and advanced analysis.

Kingston Hospital Foundation Trust has just signed a contract with IMMJ to support its ambition to move from Level 6 on the HIMSS EMRAM maturity model to Level 7 and will use MediViewer to help to meet its analytics requirements by generating clinical-based intelligence from its unstructured data.

Automating document handling: The NHS response to covid-19 has left it with long waiting lists and pent-up demand. To deal with them, it will need efficient workflows. Trusts that have a system for handling documents and unstructured data can apply advanced techniques such as robotic process automation to handle processes such as transfer of care efficiently and cost-effectively.

Technology and the transition to the ‘new normal’

Progress on NHS IT is back on the board agenda as the health and care system emerges from the first wave of the covid-19 emergency with new digital solutions in place.

There will be fewer people in outpatient departments and a renewed focus on improving patient flows through theatres and wards. Eventually, there will be a “reset” and a reboot for the NHS long-term plan agenda of integrated care supported by population-level planning.

All these developments depend on IT; or, more accurately, on the effective use of the data that IT systems can generate. That means that this is the moment for boards to revisit their IT strategies, and to ask where a next-generation electronic document management system will work for them.

Whether it is putting outpatient records onto the screen of a clinician working from home, a full patient record in front of a team deciding whether to operate, or millions of records into a database for research and analysis, MediViewer can play a part in unlocking the full value of a trust’s information.