We asked practice staff how their GPs use patient records during home visits and nursing home rounds. 95% said that some or all their GPs take paper printouts to refer to. Why should GPs stop printing patient records for home visits and what is the alternative?
1. Paper based
Unnecessary printing is expensive. Paper costs money, so does ink. And practices have to buy and maintain the printers too. It's bad for the environment, wasting paper, ink and energy. It's no surprise that a major goal of the NHS 5 Year Forward View is to make the NHS paperless by 2020.
2. Inefficient and costly
Printing wastes time and effort. Printers are very fast and can churn out many pages per minute. But how often do you go to the printer to find your document has failed to print? Communication errors and paper jams take time to resolve. Did you notice how the printer always runs out of paper when you're in a hurry?
When GPs take printed records to home visits, they often hand write notes during consultations. They give these notes to a secretary or administrator when they return to the practice. The notes are then added to the electronic records by hand. The whole process is very inefficient.
3. Prone to errors
Printing records, hand writing notes and manual transcription to electronic records. That's a process where errors are inevitable. Inaccurate or incomplete information will find its way onto patient records.
4. Confidential information is vulnerable
Patients have concerns about the security of confidential electronic patient records. Does that mean paper printouts are safe? It would be easy to argue that printed medical records are less secure than their digital counterparts:
- Paper is more vulnerable to prying eyes and it's easy to make copies
- Is paper always safe while it is in the car between visits?
- What happens to the paper afterwards? Is it always shredded and destroyed?
5. Compromised care
In the consulting room, GPs have decision support within their clinical IT system. They can isolate aspects of the patient record and graph trends. There are alerts to warn of interactions when prescribing. Away from the practice, with only paper notes to refer to, none of this support is available. We're not suggesting that GPs take risks, but they will wait until they return to the practice and have a look at their system before making decisions. As a consequence, this can delay treatment.
What is the alternative?
In the same survey, 97% of respondents said that they owned a smartphone or tablet. Most people use apps on these devices that make information available anytime. That could be your computer, smartphone or tablet. This is exactly what Vision Anywhere does with patient records.
Vision Anywhere is a Windows, Android and iOS health app. It allows GPs to view and add to patient records anywhere and anytime, such as GP home visits.
GPs can use their smartphone or tablet to work with electronic patient records during home visits and nursing home rounds. Highlights include:
- Filter, sort and look at different aspects of patient records, e.g. look at a patient's blood pressure history
- Decision support, prescribing and interaction checks
- Add information away from the practice
- Record commons observations using predictive data entry (like predictive texting)
- Dictate notes straight into records
Data is safe and secure. It's accurate, paper free and saves time. There is no need to print any more patient notes.
Want to read more about Vision Anywhere? Here are some other blog articles we've published:
- Central funding for Vision Anywhere and Appointments
- Vision Anywhere now even easier to use
- GPs and patients can save time with repeat medication synchronisation
- Guest blog: Dr. Paul Miller's first encounter with Vision Anywhere