Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust has begun converting more than 1.9m patient records into digital files as part of a £2.3m contract with the EDM Group.

The project, which will run for two years, will see the trust convert around 72m sheets of paper by scanning and turning them into tif or pdf format.

At present, the paper records are stored in four different locations, including three hospital sites and a purpose built storage warehouse.

The project has been launched in a bid to remove the need for the warehouse as the trust also prepares to open two new state-of-the-art hospitals.

Paul Curley, a consultant and the clinical lead director of IM&T at the trust, told E-Health Insider: “When the hospitals were being designed around a decade ago, the promise was that everyone would be paperless by this time, so they were built without the facility to store paper records.

“We also have a distributed hospital system with a single set of records, which presents many challenges.” At the moment, it can take up to four hours for documents to be retrieved.

The EDM Group was selected for the project last year after responding to an OJEU advertisement.

It is converting documents, including general medical records, emergency department records, hard written forms, x-rays and photographs, beginning with files created since 2002.

Richard Lancaster, account manager for the EDM Group for the Mid Yorkshire project, told EHI: “The conversion follows an intense scanning process where documents are scanned at every level in order to create a full audit trail of everyone that has handled the documents.

“The records are selected by our own staff in the data warehouse during the night, picked up by a dedicated van, taken three hours away to our offices in Wolverhampton, prepared and then scanned using bar-coding technology. They are then exported via a secure link to the trust’s own network.”

The EDM Group also operates an urgent retrieval system to provide clinicians with notes within a two hour period in an emergency situation.

If a patient’s record is in the van, the driver is called and will turn back. If the driver is nearer to Wolverhampton, they will continue and the office staff will make dealing with the notes a priority.

After eight weeks, documents that have been scanned will be destroyed after a number of random checks have been carried out to make sure the electronic copy mirrors the hard copy.

The trust will also eventually destroy all records that have been inactive for seven years, except for those which are mandatory to keep.

Mid Yorks is running another project in parallel, using software from WinDIP to effectively create an electronic patient record.

Curley explained: “The trust will integrate the scanned records with PACS, pathology results and electronic documents during the same time frame, which is going to be a huge challenge but so far everything is running smoothly and on time.”

Links: EDM Group