Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has fully deployed an electronic document management system, using barcodes to store information on the location of paper records that have to be kept for legal reasons.

The trust deployed the EDM system in May this year, after two years of piloting. Speaking at the Smart Healthcare expo in London earlier this week, the trust’s head of IT projects and development, Philip Scott, said: “Over the course of time we have seen numerous benefits.

“There are significant cash releasing savings to be made – for example, in administration, staff, storage and transport to remote storage locations. Safety improvements have also been key, aiding legibility issues and ensuring records are securely stored and easy to relocate.”

The system the trust chose has been developed by US e-health specialist, Blueware, and combines sophisticated electronic forms with barcode technology.

Scott said: “We bulk scan records active in the last 18 months, which are less urgent, and scan on demand all other records. Files are prepared first to remove any redundant content, and it is then replicated direct to the EDM. As we work in a single sign-on environment, this can easily be accessed by authorised personnel and tracked as the record is used.”

Any department using a paper record can scan its barcode to ensure it has an identity in the EDM system. Whenever a document changes location it is rescanned, so it can be traced easily.

Scott said clinical engagement has been key to the project’s success. “This has been one of the most extensive EDM implementations we can identify in the NHS, but several are in the pipeline and we are keen to share experiences and learn,” he added.

“It magnifies the problems of previous records management methods and helps to bring to light new issues we should face up to.”