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Trust going 'paper-light'

Paper-based health records are becoming a thing of the past at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

The organisation is investing in a new electronic clinical document system which will enable it to start converting from paper to electronic health records' management.

The electronic clinical document management system will change the way acute health records are used. Staff will have secure access online to health records, allowing the availability of records when and where they are needed, improving the quality of services to patients at the point of care. 

Mr Andrew Jennings, Orthopaedic Consultant at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, has championed the introduction of the new system. He said: "This is an extremely important development from a clinical and patient safety point of view. Implementing an electronic management system means we will be able to access patient records instantaneously and concurrently at any of our Trust locations. Being able to access the records at the point of care will support clinical decision making and also ensure that we have key information available immediately which will bring improved patient care.

"Rapid access and improved sharing of information through the new system will also help support a reduction in any appointments or operations which may need to be cancelled because notes are not available. Also, because staff will be able to access the notes from multiple settings it will mean patients won't have to repeat their history to different professionals or at different sites, leading to an improved patient experience.

"The new system will bring particular improvements in emergency care. Clinicians will be able to access a patient's medical history including for example their anaesthetic history at the point of care within the emergency departments leading to improved and safer emergency management and surgery."

The system, which will allow acute health records to be captured and stored as electronic images, and then be viewed on computers across the organisation, is expected to be introduced in the New Year.

Initially being piloted in two areas, it is expected that the project will be rolled out across the organisation by Autumn 2013.

Published: 18 December 2012

'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham