Chris Netherton

Chris Netherton

Managing Director, Microtest

Earlier this year, Lord Carter produced his report on acute care in the NHS, setting a dual challenge of improving quality of care while also delivering efficiencies and cost savings. I was struck by a specific section where Lord Carter was describing the need for a ‘single integrated framework’ to deliver best practice across all the acute trusts:

“Such a framework also requires hospitals to improve their use of modern digital technology. The best performing hospital systems around the world have real-time monitoring and reporting at their finger tips.”

Lord Carter went on to say:

“We were struck by the immaturity of trusts’ use of such technology from e-Rostering systems, e-Prescribing and basic electronic catalogues for procurement, so we recommend NHS Improvement needs to incentivise trusts to fully utilise their existing digital systems.”

I have written previously on this blog about the way in which the use of digital systems in acute care lags well behind that seen in primary care. GP practices across the UK have already seen the huge benefits that modern technology can bring, including electronic patient record sharing, online appointment systems such as our own Waiting Room 2, and much more. It was therefore rather sobering to see Lord Carter comment that, in the acute care system, “Even where trusts have invested in such technology, we found that trusts were not getting full meaningful use of it.”

This suggests to me that there are indeed significant cost savings to be made in the coming years by modernising this aspect of the way our hospitals operate, driving up utilisation of new technology and reaping the rewards for both patients and staff alike. Lord Carter’s report goes on to agree that scope exists for technology to reduce the ‘admin’ burden placed on our hospital staff and free up more time to spend on face to face patient care.

Over the next few years, we will inevitably see a major new focus on the appropriate use of technology to assist in the improvement of quality care in our hospitals and doubtless many new tools will be created to help with this process.

Meeting Lord Carter’s challenge is not just a responsibility of our hospitals and NHS trusts. Suppliers such as Microtest have a vital role to play in ensuring that the correct tools are developed, that they are closely matched to the needs of our hospital teams and that they are ‘future proof’ and have the capability to be enhanced and expanded as medical care makes new advances.

Within our Microtest Open Evolution practice management system we recently launched an integration with FDB OptimiseRx. This brilliant tool gives valuable prescribing guidance to GPs and pharmacists, which appears ‘live’ within their normal workflow and draws on a patient’s entire medical record. But it also goes further. If a patient has been prescribed two separate medications but there is a single medication alternative, it will highlight that option. It also flags up lower cost options for identical medications and helps the team to consistently adhere to the agreed formulary for that practice.

These kinds of tools are a key focus for our development teams at Microtest. Fast, intuitive systems that help medical professionals to work smarter not harder and deliver consistent, high quality care without interrupting their normal workflow.

Lord Carter’s report has crystallised many pressing issues in acute care. At Microtest, we are already rising to the challenge.


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