NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale in Lancashire has begun a project to digitise all its inactive health care records.

The primary care trust is working with EDM Group to convert inactive paper records into digital records.

The document conversion should dramatically reduce paper storage requirements. It should also help to improve the efficiency of the retrieval of inactive records, should they be needed by medical staff.

Paula Gouveia, health records manager NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, commented: “Traditionally inactive medical records were stored wherever room could be found.

"This was not always accessible to services, and the cost of providing purpose built storage facilities or records libraries was becoming an increasing burden on tightening PCT budgets.”

“We felt that it would be logical to convert all inactive paper records into digital format – not only easing our storage problem but also enabling physicians in to benefit from easier access.”

The PCT says the e-document management project is a stepping stone to the future introduction of Lorenzo as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS. Digitised records will be easier to migrate to Lorenzo in the future.

The initial stages of the project will involve the scanning of around 5m images over a two-year period. The digitised records will behosted by EDM’s online hosted document management solution, EDM Online, which provides access management features.

The process of digitising and indexing the records combines individual patients’ records for multiple services. The system also provides the trust with a comprehensive single index of all its files.