Feature Content

Empowering healthcare staff: the key to a successful paperless future

Feature by Radar Healthcare.

The healthcare industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, particularly around digital transformation and the move towards a paperless system.

England’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, set a goal for 90 percent of NHS trusts to use Electronic Patient Records (EPRs) by December 2023. This target is part of a larger effort to improve technical efficiency and help people work more effectively in the healthcare system.

The recent Hewitt Review has highlighted the need for continued improvement in technical efficiency. Although progress has been made with initiatives like the NHS App and Data Saves Lives plan, there is still a long way to go for the industry to achieve a fully paperless system that enables health and social care staff to thrive.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of going paperless, how it can reduce the burden on staff, the challenges faced, and why it’s important to attract a younger workforce to the industry.

Reducing the administrative burden

Moving from paper-based data collection to real-time data dashboards can significantly reduce the administrative burden on healthcare staff, according to the Hewitt Review. By doing so, clinical and other staff can focus more on patient care and treatment.

According to a BT report, there is a need for the industry to remain people-focused, with 75 percent of NHS staff believing that team capacity (e.g., lack of relevant skills and/or resources) is slowing innovation.

With the help of Radar Healthcare, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust is reducing the pressures on their workforce by streamlining existing systems and processes. Using a fully integrated solution, they are able to analyse data from multiple sources automatically and provide a holistic view.

Jackie Davenport, the trust’s assistant director of governance and business support, described how the key driver in making the decision to select Radar Healthcare “was to find a system that would make our processes smoother, seamless, and more efficient, so our clinical staff can focus on their day job.” Jackie added that the system “will underpin a trust-wide shift in culture to allow us to take risk and incident management to a new level.”

Reporting incidents is a key area that takes up a lot of clinical staff’s time. In Radar Healthcare’s whitepaper on ‘Incident reporting in secondary care,’ the vast majority of ward nurses agreed that they needed more time (95 percent), access to the right technology (97 percent), and extra training (83 percent) to report incidents.

Infrastructure and cultural resistance to change

Despite having the right systems, a key issue partners still face is not having the right infrastructure. According to BT, 58 percent of NHS professionals still suffer from connectivity “not-spots,” and 51 percent have to switch between devices to carry out tasks. This is followed by a cultural resistance to change (37 percent) and workforce availability and capability (37 percent).

Culture change is one of the most challenged aspects of digital transformation, according to the Health Foundation’s report ‘Digital transformation in health and social care’ published in 2022. Staff may be resistant to new technologies or lack the necessary skills and training to use them effectively.

To address these challenges, it is essential to provide the right support and training for staff and patients. This can include investing in digital skills training and providing ongoing support and guidance to ensure that everyone can use digital tools effectively. It is also crucial to involve staff and patients in the design and development of digital tools to ensure that they meet their needs and address their concerns.

This is a major priority for Radar Healthcare. Radar Healthcare co-designs their systems with staff during the implementation and idea stages, in addition to providing an eLearning system for their partners to access and learn even after they’ve been onboarded. Their use of a Digital Adoption platform is another benefit which gives users ‘walk-through’ guide to any on the spot training needed while using the system.

Attracting the younger workforce

Even though the healthcare industry is constantly introducing digital roles, like chief nursing information officers and chief digital nurses, staffing shortages are still at an all-time high. Attracting a younger workforce from digitally nurtured generations remains a challenge. According to BT’s report, 83 percent agree that investing in technology can help the NHS to attract a younger workforce.

42 percent believe that staffing levels, shortages, and burnout will hold back digital transformation. To overcome this, it is essential to create an environment where innovation can thrive, with the right infrastructure, cultural support, and training programs in place. Nearly three-quarters of NHS staff believe technology could help transform patient care in England, with over 80 percent claiming it could attract more ‘digital natives’ into the workforce, according to BT’s study.

Jo Dickson, former chief digital officer at NHS Digital, addressed this issue on a recent Digitell podcast episode titled ‘What clinical leaders need to know about digital’, saying: “If you want to recruit people into your organisation who are early in their careers, you have to be able to offer them something from a technology perspective because they won’t want to work for an organisation that is still using paper, because they’ve probably learned that makes them less safe.

“From a recruitment and retention perspective, there’s something really key about chief nurses understanding how technology can support them to recruit and retain staff.”

Digital transformation is vital for the healthcare industry since it provides significant benefits to staff, patients, and the wider community. Despite the challenges faced, such as infrastructure issues and cultural resistance to change, the industry must remain focused on innovation and attracting a younger workforce. By investing in technology and creating an environment where innovation can thrive, we can improve patient care, reduce the administrative burden on staff, and attract the next generation of healthcare professionals.

Radar Healthcare has supported 70,000 healthcare professionals in going paperless across the world. Get in touch at www.radarhealthcare.com if you think we could help you too.