A Southampton hospital plans to digitise its existing patient records and replace paper processes with electronic forms using Hyland’s electronic document management system OnBase by Hyland.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust received £1.35 million from NHS England’s ‘Integrated Digital Care Fund’ for the project, which is due to be operational by the end of 2016.

Initially, it will enable the trust to scan notes on demand and give clinicians access to a selection of scanned paper patient records currently held in the trust’s health records library, which is due to close in 2017.

Adrian Byrne, director of IM&T at University Hospital Southampton, said the trust will only scan records of patients that are likely to turn up at the organisation in the next few years, or who are already on a care pathway.

It is not looking to scan the entire library. “If it’s in your algorithm that there’s a high chance you won’t see those patients again before you can legitimately destroy those records then there is no sense at all in scanning them,” Byrne said.

Remaining paper records will be held in deep storage, Byrne, added, saying that IT firm Hugh Symons will support the trust’s scanning activities in the early stages.

The records that are scanned will be viewable directly through the trust’s existing electronic patient record from Ascribe, which was bought by Emis in 2013, and is able to integrate with OnBase.

“To all intents and purposes we would like if users didn’t even know they were in OnBase,” said Byrne. “They will seamlessly move between applications and hopefully we will create a user experience that’s consistent with the one we already have.”

He added that the process will be most seamless on desktop computers, whereas there will be a more obvious OnBase presence on tablet devices. 

Byrne said that further developments as part of the project include moving paper processes to a direct data entry approach.

“We will move to directly filling in data into electronic templates on increasingly mobile devices – tablets and such. The immediate and obvious benefit from that is we will start to obtain more structured data than we do now.”

Byrne said this has been a combined project with community and mental health trusts Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Solent NHS Trust, which share a notes library with University Hospital Southampton.

Both these other trusts also have to move out of the physical library by 2017 and OnBase will allow clinicians University Hospital Southampton to continue to view relevant paper records.

Steve Rudland, customer advocacy and consulting lead for EMEA at Hyland, said: “Interoperability has always been absolutely key to what we do in our systems.

“One of reasons why we’ve been able to develop very good relationships with EPR providers is that our interoperability allows them to extend their systems rather than see us as a potential rival.”

University Hospital Southampton’s contract with Hyland is for five years with an option for a two-year extension.