Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Making The NHS Paperless

Jeremy Hunt's plan to make the NHS paperless by 2018 seems to be one of those ideas that sound good on, er, paper, but there are significant difficulties with it.

The extreme levels of IT investment in the NHS, very possibly flowing more from some obsessive ideological desire to improve always chimerical 'public sector productivity' than from any wish to actually improve patient care, may have had some interesting unintended consequences. Increased reliance on IT may mean that doctors are less likely to take paper notes of consultations, relying instead on their memories to write up notes on the PC later, the medics becoming the medical secretaries. The scope for error that this involves is enormous; and although I imagine that it would be impossible to find out, it would be fascinating to see whether there has been an increase in the number of cases of medical negligence where poor note-taking has been a factor since the NHS seems to have been compelled to attach a PC to every solid surface. 

What this might mean is that an ideologically driven move to make a body more efficient may in fact be costing it money by contributing to an increase in the number of compensation claims against it. The sums just don't add up, do they?

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