When health secretary Jeremy Hunt makes speeches about his desire to see a paperless NHS by 2018, he likes to joke that his advisors have applauded him for his “brave” vision.
Ever since ‘Yes, Minister’ aired in the early 1980s, this has been taken as code for a minister doing something that his aides think deeply misguided and sure to end in tears.
Yet the aim of a paperless NHS – which the minister has further defined as one that uses electronic patient records and communications – is one that is worth aiming for.
As Hunt himself has also acknowledged, the question is how the NHS should set about achieving the goal (and a centralised programme is not on the agenda).
Time is tight if the NHS is going to get it right this time. NHS England is supposed to be issuing guidance in June on the first step for trusts; drawing up plans to use electronic records that can be implemented the following year.
So, EHI believes that it is now time to draw on the collective wisdom of its readers, and to gather views on some key questions ahead of that guidance coming out.
As EHI editor Jon Hoeksma outlines in this week’s Insight, we are asking readers to respond, positively and in detail, to some key questions.
What should the June guidance do, and what should it not do? What is an EPR, and is there anything that should not be counted as one?
What are the most clinically valuable parts of an EPR, and what can be left for later? What is the best evidence on benefits available?
And what steps are needed nationally and locally for different NHS organisations to make progress?
What can we learn from the years of NPfIT (without simply fighting past battles), and is there any remaining value in the strategies that proceeded it in 1998 and 1992? What can we learn from other countries, primary care, or even the armed forces?
EHI has already been told that NHS England will view the debate with interest. We aim to run a series of The Big EPR Debate articles this year, looking in more detail at the issues raised, and using the responses as the basis for a shared online EPR Best Practice Resource.
So, it’s over to you. The comment button awaits…