Will 2023 represent a ‘coming of age’ for digital maturity in the NHS?

Paper – or indeed, lack of it – might not sound like the most exciting thing to talk about as we look ahead to 2023. But when it has the potential to save the UK’s healthcare system millions of pounds every year – it suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting. With IMMJ firmly at the coalface of trying to enable digital transformation within the NHS and private sector, we spoke to our CEO, Jon Pickering to find out more. 

While I might still be relatively new to IMMJ, this certainly isn’t my first time heading up a tech business or working within the healthcare market. What is different though, is that we’re currently living through a time of great significance in terms of ‘where we go from here’ when it comes to futureproofing the UK’s healthcare industry. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking our nation is advanced in its pursuit of the digitisation of clinical content – because it seems as though every other facet of our lives, be it personal or professional, is working through some form of ‘digital transformation’. Yet, the NHS and private sector still has a way to go in terms of their progress. 

There’s no question that an EDMS (electronic document management system) is critical to not only achieving significant financial savings for the healthcare sector, but has the potential to transform how quickly and effectively decisions are made at the point of care, too.

However, we still face some barriers to adoption as we head into 2023. 

Many of these centre around helping NHS Trusts and private clinics to build a business case which will help them to access the funding needed for such an undertaking. At present, turning paper records into a digital resource is one of the biggest IT transformation projects a Trust can embark on – and one which is bigger and arguably more important than an Electronic Patient Records (EPR) implementation due to the sheer volume of document digitisation required. It represents a significant procedural and cultural shift. 

While this might sound daunting, it’s also the biggest advancement those in the healthcare sector can take when it comes to progressing up the digital maturity scale, and empowered by the support of an EDMS specialist it’s possible to feel in safe hands every step of the way. By moving away from paper to full digital records and making them accessible and searchable by clinicians, the entire stakeholder experience is improved, from those on ‘the front line’, to the patients and their families who expect – and deserve – a streamlined process which allows for complete oversight of records, and therefore timely diagnosis and treatment. 

At IMMJ, we have an exciting challenge in terms of raising awareness of such opportunities for the healthcare sector at a national level, bringing EDMS alongside EPR in terms of importance – as many of our customers believe EDMS should come before EPR. 

And, the more the government is aware of the challenges and opportunities at a local and national level, the better the chances for Trusts to develop the all-important business case to support these initiatives and obtain funding. 

But, why invest when the UK economy is struggling enough?

Once complete, these transformation projects have the potential to save healthcare providers – both NHS and private practices – millions of pounds. Therefore, at a time when public sector spending is under the microscope, being able to demonstrate ROI is crucial.  

What’s more, such a solution could help satisfy other corporate agendas, such as reducing carbon footprints – both in terms of the energy used to heat and light traditional storage rooms, but also when it comes to the physical transportation of hard-copy files from site to site. Add to that the scope to free up huge amounts of square footage for theatres or clinics, and the opportunities continue to stack up.

But, for the UK healthcare sector to advance, it first needs to trust. 

While there’s no arguing with the positive outcomes to bring about change, healthcare decision-makers need to find a trusted guide to take them on the journey from paper to paperless. Clinicians – who account for 80% of users – must be allowed the time to be involved in the transition from an early stage too, to ensure they understand how to use the technology to make their lives easier and deliver better patient outcomes.

Looking ahead, I believe that demonstrating fiscal and care quality ROI will become more important than ever throughout 2023-24 – and it’s IMMJ’s role to educate the health sector about how EPR and EDMS will together deliver ground-breaking digital transformation within a clinical setting.  The journey to paperless won’t happen overnight, but the time to start, is now.

IMMJ is ideally placed to help as a market leader, not just when it comes to EDMS software itself, but in the delivery and adoption of solutions across all hospital specialities. Our healthcare-specific application, and the experience our team has, are what sets us apart. 

To find out more about Jon Pickering, connect with him on LinkedIn.