Sunderland signals an end to NHS paperchase

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has  introduced new software to help its medical secretaries handle all clinical correspondence electronically.

Following successful pilot trials at the hospital, MedisecTRUST software will be used to automatically generate and centrally store all clinic attendance letters and discharge letters.  The new approach promises to improve standards of patient care, reduce risk and save the medical secretaries hours of time and effort every week.

As part of a Trustwide modernisation programme, digital dictation will also be integrated, where consultants dictate their file notes into a centrally managed service using a digital dictaphone.

Storing information electronically removes the burden of analogue tapes and stops the usual NHS paperchase, as Tom Rothwell, managing director of software developers Medisec Software explains.

“Before implementation of the system, hospital staff would have to physically locate patient case notes and search through them to answer the constant stream of GP, clinician and patient enquiries about test results, changes in medication or appointment queries.  Now they can answer most questions instantly on the phone. The increased quality of the letters will also reduce the number of telephone queries from primary care.”

The new system automates many of the most routine tasks performed by medical secretaries, helping them to produce letters and forms much more quickly and efficiently. It downloads the most up-to-date patient information (such as date of birth, address, NHS number and GP) from the hospital’s main Patient Administration System into a letter template.  Medical secretaries then add the file notes already dictated into the system by the relevant consultant.

As well as significantly improving the content and presentation of correspondence across different departments, the centralised approach also gives medical secretaries instant access to the latest patient information, such as clinic attendance, future appointments and admissions.

Additionally, automatically populating letters with data from the PAS and storing information centrally reduces the risk of errors and helps the Trust to meet its clinical governance targets, as it eliminates the need to key in information.

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