Health Information Exchange Featured Article

January 16, 2013

Going Paperless Means Big Savings for National Health Service

Just about any system designed by human beings has a certain amount of error built into it. In the case of the National Health Service (NHS) of the U.K., however, there's a surprisingly large amount of room for improvement. Looking to help trim some of the error out of the system--and by extension save billions over several years--is the GreenLight online technology system, a paperless office system that looks to bring big savings on several fronts.

GreenLight is part of a larger suite of software offerings available from Software Europe, and offers tools to remove some of the paperwork from an office environment, modernizing certain processes and helping to pull the potential for error out of them. The NHS is using GreenLight to manage things like start times and end times for those in its employ, assorted changes in circumstances, and additional hours worked in a week. By taking the paper out of just those three processes alone, current estimates suggest that the NHS will save 150 million pounds sterling ($240.39 million U.S.) annually.

Additionally, it will not only improve things on a monetary level, but also on an efficiency level, as lost paperwork, delays, and errors are removed from the system and NHS staff can redirect their efforts from handling paperwork to delivering patient care.

Those are convincing numbers, but it's how GreenLight improves things that make it notable. By putting all the necessary forms a worker may need online, they're much easier to find and generate. No more needing extra copies at a crucial moment, which itself takes time, effort and resources to fix. Mistakes fall to a minimum as the need to input data is lessened, and since all the forms stay online, it's much easier to find them, but also audit them as necessary.

Software Europe has several other offerings, like Framework and Expenses Health, that join in with GreenLight to improve processing speed of paperwork and reduce the amount of paper available in the system. Since Software Europe has been working with the NHS for the last six years on improving back office processes, based on reports from Software Europe's managing director Neil Everatt, the NHS is well on its way to being mostly paperless, more efficient, and saving money.

Saving money in healthcare is generally a smart idea. Being able to provide more care for the same amount of money, or the same amount of care for less money, is a great way to improve accessibility to healthcare no matter where it's needed. Being able to get healthcare services to those who need it is an important step for any society, but being able to do it within a market framework is even better. Reduced waste and improved efficiency are two great steps to take to get healthcare into more hands, and for those who need it, which could be life-saving news.

Edited by Brooke Neuman