South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust has signed a five-year contract with Kainos to digitise all of its patient records and make them available to staff on iPads.

The trust hopes to give staff mobile access to its systems by the end of the year, using Apple iPad devices. The iPads will give staff the ability to access and update a patient’s record at the point of care during a clinic, or a visit to a patient’s home.

The trust published an ICT strategy for 2011-14 in June last year, which said it wants to create a paper-light environment and improve mobile working, especially among its community staff.

It has now signed a contract with Kainos for Evolve, a document management system that automates the creation, capture, handling and distribution of notes and other records, which it hopes to deploy by July this year.

Duncan Robinson, associate director of ICT at the trust, said: “Even with the best medical records library in the world, reliance on paper-based patient notes is far from efficient.

“Paper can’t be in two places at once. We don’t want to be having to find storage for more paper and we want our clinicians to have the ability to access our records electronically.”

The trust will use an in-house scanning department, which will be designed by Kainos. Robinson told eHealth Insider that once the first stage of the project has been completed the trust will explore mobile working.

Robinson told EHI that important and sensitive patient information will be held on the iPad for a minimum amount of time before being sent back to a central server.

“We want to be mindful of all the data risks and we want to be able to work offline safely and securely. Apple’s encryption offers very strong security.”

The trust, which runs hospitals in Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon, absorbed Warwickshire Community Health from the local primary care trust in April 2011.

However, Robinson said the acute trust had provided IT services to the community provider before the merger, and had already been looking at improving access to its systems.

He said the big issue to tackle was 3G connectivity, given the rural area in which many community staff work. But he was confident that the partnership with Kainos would create a platform that could overcome this, using a combination of synchronised online and offline working.

The trust chose Specialist Computer Centres as its prime contractor, and used one of the government’s procurement frameworks to reduce procurement time.

However, Robinson said it picked Kainos after numerous presentations and site visits. Robinson said: “The opportunity to build a relationship was crucial and they are keen to do more work in the NHS.”

Deirdre O’Neill, head of Kainos Evolve said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust on such a forward-looking initiative.”