How Smart Content Capture Improves the Lives of Patients in the UK 

While most British citizens are fans of the National Health Service (NHS), many of them will admit to being frustrated by long waiting times for healthcare appointments with specialists. After their local General Practitioner (GP) has made an initial diagnosis, he or she refers the patient to a regional clinic, run by a hospital trust, for further treatment. Then, the wait begins. 

Patients’ lives are put on hold as they battle with physical pain, worry about the future and possible loss of income due to being unable to work. 

NHS Referral Targets

The NHS Constitution sets hospital trusts a target of 18 weeks between GP referral and a consultant assessing each patient for routine, non-urgent conditions. Some hospital trusts, however, struggle to meet these targets, especially when they are dealing with archaic IT systems. 

Did you know, for instance, that some GPs still send referral letters to the hospital trust via fax? Like it’s 1995! Other GPs are a bit more up-to-date and use emails instead of fax machines. Even then, the staff at the hospital trust still need to print out these documents and enter the details manually into their patient records systems. You can imagine how much time goes by while NHS employees type all these details into a computer system. 

GPs don’t only send the referral document. They often also send supporting documents such as x-rays, scans or blood tests. Administration staff scan and upload these documents and ensure they are attached to the correct patient file. Not only does the manual work take time, but the risk of error also increases with every manual step undertaken by NHS staff.

Meanwhile, the patient sits at home and waits impatiently for their appointment. Patients may face additional worries over their financial security. In some cases, the patient may not be able to work while they wait for their appointment. Musculoskeletal problems (including back pain, neck and upper limb problems) cost the UK over 30 million working days every year. 

Smart Content Capture Automates Referral Processes

However, there are ways to alleviate this frustrating situation Ephesoft’s Smart Capture solution eliminates manual work for NHS staff. By undergoing digital transformation and using smart content capture technology, the system extracts and exports all vital patient information into their EHR (electronic health records) system, including the initial note from their GP, and even supporting documents such as x-rays, blood tests or scans. The system can automatically scan and import faxes and provides a secure connection to the NHS automated e-referral system. Ephesooft’s intelligent technology even recognizes the required information from the documents, which is necessary since each referral document is laid out slightly differently. 

Can you imagine how much quicker it is to run all these referrals through automated software, rather than waiting for office workers to enter all the data into a system? Staff will still need to “train” the system with sample documents, which then enables the system to learn to recognize that document type. We call this supervised machine learning. The more documents it processes, the system increases in value as it learns over time.

As a leading healthcare entity, NHS completed their digital transformation initiative to benefit both patients and their employees. When the NHS improved efficiency, it was not only an improvement for the hospital trust patients, but its employees’ workload is lightened, increasing job satisfaction with less potential errors. However, the primary beneficiaries are the patients whose initial consultant-led appointment comes around much faster. 

With a quicker referral process, patients can begin treatment earlier and start recovering. This enables patients to get back to their everyday routine, return to work and enjoy their life. 

More information:

Case Study Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Case Study The Leads Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Contact us for more details or an individual presentation of our solution.