Associate Feature: Digital solutions can help solve the workforce crisis
Everyone knows the health care workforce is under pressure, but what’s that got to do with the digital agenda? Put simply, good systems and processes save time. A lot of time. And that releases capacity, easing pressures on healthcare professionals.
Top of the list is the pressing need for a single shared electronic patient record. At present, health and care information is held in silos: sharing of information relies on manual communication between professionals and there is an enormous duplication of effort as the same information is entered into multiple records.
Whenever a patient is admitted to hospital, the lack of a single record means their medicines must be manually checked with at least two sources of information. When they are discharged, the pharmacy teams in general practice and community pharmacies must update their separate records.
A single shared record would wipe out all of this duplication of effort. Each profession would write into the record from their own clinical system. Each profession would read the same record, with a different view according to what is appropriate for their role. Time-consuming repetitive tasks would be removed, and crucially it would be a far safer system for patients: the risk of poor information and communication would be hugely reduced.
Another priority is the full implementation of electronic prescribing and transfer of prescriptions across all care settings. Again, this would improve patient safety and workforce capacity, but it would have an additional benefit: removing paper prescriptions would be very positive for the environment.
Work has started on both of these areas, but it’s not happening fast enough. We need to stop thinking of these areas as solely digital developments and recognise them for what they are: real solutions for the workforce crisis we’re facing. Perhaps then they will get the prioritisation they deserve.
This article is sponsored by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.