Observations The Best Policy

Involve clinicians to avert a digital disaster

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i888 (Published 17 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i888

Digital notes are not handy

The paper based case notes are perceived as dinosaurs on verge of extinction while digital health records are being promoted as the best thing since sliced bread. But the reality is disheartening with a proliferation of multiple separate programs for pathology, radiology, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, e-observations and electronic letters.

With paper based notes, a quick flick through the case notes provided all relevant information, but with electronic records one needs to individually log onto to multiple software programs before a patient is seen in the clinic. The laborious mouse clicks are significantly affecting productivity.

The multiple software windows open at the same time also significantly increase the risk of errors when moving between patient records.

Furthermore, the outdated hardware and consequent ‘software freeze’ leaves clinicians frequently exasperated.

NHS hospitals needs a single versatile software along the lines of a Microsoft Office suite; not a proliferation of different systems across hospitals.

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 February 2016
Santhanam Sundar
Consultant Oncologist
Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust