NHS looks to bar codes to save money

28 February 2007
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28 February 2007 | Antony Barton

Electronic devices with bar-coding technology could cut medics' workloads and help save £2 billion.

The Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has started using the A4-sized Mobile Clinical Assistants (MCAs) from technology firm Motion Computing, which give medics access to patient records, make it easier to call up test results and reduce paperwork. The hospital ran a successful four-week trial of the product and is working with the manufacturer to identify how the purchase of more units would benefit the trust.

The news comes a week after Lord Hunt, the NHS IT minister, announced that the NHS, patients and industry would benefit from bar-coding technology.

The Department of Health (DH) says errors, many of which result from patient identity errors, cost the NHS around £2 billion in extra bed days for patients.

Lord Hunt, launching a strategy document on using auto-identification and data-capture technologies, said: "We are recommending that both industry and the NHS should use the GS1 System for coding and I am delighted to be able to announce that GS1UK [a GS1 standards organisation] will be providing membership and support to NHS organisations who want to move forward on this."

A spokeswoman for DH told supplymanagement.com that it was not committing to a bulk purchase of the MCAs, despite the successful trial in Salford, because although it was recommending the adoption of GS1 Coding, it was not recommending any specific products.

She added that DH would not make it mandatory to sign up to GS1 or RFID products because the increased bureaucracy of schedules and deadlines could make uptake slower in the NHS.


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