Digital transformation is required to embrace the future of healthcare. Accessible patient data is mandatory to create comprehensive electronic patient records, referrals and triage assessments. Digital transformation initiatives to uncover hidden or data trapped in faxes, paper documents, chat logs, call records, emails or even unsearchable PDFs will enable hospitals to healthcare providers to provide better and faster care. 

When the British health care system, the National Health Service (NHS) launched in 1948, it employed around 144,000 people. By the time the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday in 2018, it was the single biggest employer in the UK, with 1.7 million workers. These doctors, nurses, midwives, porters, administrators and cleaners work for hundreds of health care trusts across the country, serving over 1 million patients every 36 hours.

360-Degree View of Patient Health Records 

When NHS trusts started looking into digital transformation to improve patient care, they sought out a solution for connecting data silos spread over various software systems, both internal and external. Their staff was spending too much time re-entering identical data into multiple software solutions, with the accompanying risk of transfer and duplication errors. 

Their goal was a solution that secures a 360-degree view of the patient health records, bringing together all clinical documents such as doctors’ notes, discharge summaries, lab results, as well as digital images related to the patient. 

Additionally, patient record files should also include patient demographics, and medical data feeds. All the information should be secured within software repositories and made available via national ID schemes, e.g., eCards, DoctorID, and other services. The high security and data privacy requirements are an additional, complicated but vital factor. 

NHS End-to-End Digital Referral System 

An essential piece of the ideal solution is the digitization of NHS referrals from other health care providers, such as General Practitioners (GPs). To meet the Right to Treatment (RTT) referral targets, trusts have to transform the manual processing of referrals. Most hospitals still receive these referrals from fax or email, which are printed and manually added to the patient record system. 

NHS Hospital Trust Digital Transformation 

Ephesoft works in cooperation with a number of partners to provide an integrated and seamless solution to these pressing issues.

Ephesoft’s solution captures and classifies structured and unstructured documents electronically regardless of their source. Once GP referrals are captured and identified from email, fax, scans and printed documents, extracted data can be delivered to an ECM or healthcare system. The capture platform integrates with the NHS Digital e-RS service, which is vital for NHS acute hospital trusts. This step in digital transformation eliminates the need for manual data entry. Who wouldn’t want to increase the quality of patient care even while decreasing labor costs by between 30 – 50%?

Data-Centric with the Human Touch 

The solution can also triage the referral, including accept, reject, and redirect internally/externally. Ephesoft advocates supervised machine learning because data-driven healthcare decisions still need to be validated by experienced professionals. The system learns from human feedback, which improves future data-driven determinations. 

Internal Sharing and Reporting

External options enable automated reporting and retrieval by clinicians. Reporting tools assist with the collation of RTT statistics, and an additional option allows reporting back to GPs and Social Care providers. 

Results of Digital Transformation at the NHS Trust

The digitization of the referral process led to a drastic reduction in duplicate data processing, estimated at a 90% decrease. This lead to a decrease in labor costs and data duplication errors. Simultaneously, automated processes saved a significant amount of time. 

The drastically improved referral process reduced RTT waiting times, and the reporting of these targets is significantly faster and more comfortable. Now, patients are seeing an average wait time from 6 weeks to 2 weeks. 

While these improvements bring considerable economic benefits, they also increase job satisfaction for staff and improved patient care standards. 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can implement similar changes for your healthcare organization, please email us at info, or contact us here.

More information:

Case Study Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Case Study The Leads Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

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