Joanna Smith, CIO of the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust has begun work on the transformation of the electronic medical records at the West London NHS trust.

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust is the largest specialist heart and lung NHS centre in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. It carries out major cardiothoracic surgery, including heart and lung transplants, and its facilities include intensive and high-dependency care units.

As with many NHS organisations it is struggling with excessive use of paper and currently houses in the region of 250,000 paper records that must be stored locally, with paper files manually transported as required using trolleys.

Smith is working with records management technology provider Kainos to digitise existing paper case notes and medical records. Clinicians will have instant access to accurate, up-to-date case notes at the point of need. They will also be able, where appropriate, to share content securely with other healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care, such as their GP or local hospital consultant.

Smith described the move as “a vital tool that will provide our medical staff with instant access to the information they need, whenever and wherever they need it.

“Some of our departments with higher data dependence – such as the ICU – have already made steps towards going paper-light, but our reliance on hardcopy notes and records is something we wanted to address on a Trust-wide level.

Evolve will dramatically reduce costly and labour intensive processes, save clinicians time, and ultimately lead to a higher standard of patient care.”

The Evolve EMR implementation is a key part of the Trust’s wider digital transformation strategy, developed by Smith and her colleagues following her appointment in January 2013. Smith joined Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust from a business technology leadership career in the pharmaceutical industry. The Trust has already created a clinical data warehouse to analyse data and reveal clinical insights, and it is envisioned that Evolve EMR will integrate with this system and other technologies adopted as part of the transformation programme.

Digitising the Trust’s extensive archive and implementing Evolve for active patients (those seen within the last two years) will take place over the next eight months, with the system expected to go live in September 2015. This will free up space at both of the Trust’s hospitals once these paper records are scanned and moved offsite.

“Evolve will enable us to move part of our archive and make much better use of that space,” continues Smith. “It could, for example, be used for storing vital medical supplies and equipment, or for staff training facilities. It will certainly be put to good use as soon as it becomes available.”

As part of the Trust’s digital transformation, it is committed to becoming increasingly paper light in line with wider NHS goals, while at the same time saving money, improving services and rising to meet the challenges of an ageing population.