Home > Electronic Records, Records Management, Scanning > Worcestershire predicts £2m savings by outsourcing patient records

Worcestershire predicts £2m savings by outsourcing patient records

Hospital trust claims significant savings from outsourcing records management

by SA Mathieson, Guardin Professional

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals trust expects to save £2m over 10 years through a £12.6m project to digitise and outsource the management of its patient records, as well as improving quality and extending where it can provide services.

John Thornbury, director of ICT for Worcestershire Health ICT Services, said the trust outsourced its records management to Xerox in summer 2009, producing savings by removing the need to transport the records and opening up opportunities to provide hospital services in alternative locations around the county.

Thornbury said that clinics in the community would work for those who do not require access to specialist equipment, such as follow-up sessions, as the patient notes no longer need to be transported to locations outside the hospital. The NHS in Worcestershire shares a communications network, used by the larger GP surgeries, which provides a secure channel.

“You can be more competitive and you’ve got the tools and the framework to do things differently,” he said.

The shift to digital records also saves time for staff such as ward clerks and medical secretaries, allowing them to do more useful work; saves space in offices; and improves patient safety as records are more likely to be available. Thornbury said that complaints about lost records have virtually ended. The trust has already used the project to cut the number of forms from 1,500 to 300.

The project has involved 60 medical records staff transferring under Tupe regulations from the NHS to Xerox. Thornbury said this has gone smoothly, with five of them having been promoted within the company.

“Staff morale has gone up over the last 12 months,” he said. “From being a backwater in the NHS – they are pivotal, but are not recognised as they should be – Xerox has been able to concentrate on these staff. They’ve been given extra training.”

Unions have been supportive of the transfer, Thornbury added, as they were involved from the start of the process, took part in the evaluation and the contract award.

“The union representative is part of the trust board which made the decision, and was very supportive,” he said. “If you work with the unions, they are not there to shoot you down, as long as you look after the staff.”

This article is published by Guardian Professional

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