The NHS digital technology essentials guide describes a range of technologies which could be used as ‘quick wins’ by practices to help them save money. Included in the 10 technologies recommended by the guide are:
According to the guide, digital dictation could provide an easier way for practices to transcribe letters and reports. ‘Electronic workflow can significantly improve turn-around times and reduce numbers of transcription staff,' the guide said. 'Moving to speech recognition will additionally remove the need for transcription altogether.’ Some NHS organisations have already made savings by using digital dictation. In study at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, a team of 11 radiologists saved £69,000 per year by using digital dictation.
NHSmail including SMS
NHSmail can be used to transfer patient data securely and to send text message reminders to patients. According to the guide, 'did not attends' (DNAs) can be reduced by as much as 50% through the use of SMS reminders.
Digital clinical correspondence
Digital clinical correspondence allows the digitial transfer of information across a range of health and social care organisations. Stockport NHS Foundation Trust developed a digital correspondance solution called DDS to exchange information with most local GP practices. By reducing the use of consumables such as paper, ink and envelopes, the trust has saved over £100,000 per year. There were also time-saving advantages to using the system and fewer errors occurred as patient notes were not mixed up, the guide said.
Voice over IP
Voice over internet protocol (VOIP) uses an existing computer network to transmit voice calls rather than having a separate network. One of the advantages of using VOIP is that practices only need to have a single data network which can handle Voice as well as data. There is an NHS N3 service that provides VOIP services, as well as a number of commercial services like Skype, CISCO WebEx and Microsoft Lync. NHS N3 is currently investigating the possibility of developing a service that would allow GP practices to record consultations so that they can be added to patient records.