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Going “paperless” in an English National Health Service (NHS) breast cancer screening service: The intriduction of fully digital mammography

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DOI: 10.4236/health.2014.65065    4,475 Downloads   5,689 Views Citations


Objective: To test the feasibility of a fully paperless system, termed “paperlite” in a UK breast screening service. To demonstrate in NHS practice, how workload and workflow could be improved by moving to a paperless system and discovering what impact this has upon the complexity within the service. Setting: Warwickshire, Solihull and Coventry Breast Screening Service in the West Midlands of England. Methods: Quality improvement methodologies were employed, including value stream mapping, task analysis and a time-and-motion study. Results: The screening centred screened approximately 50,000 women per year. If they were to implement a paperless system, the administrative workload would decrease. The time saving per batch of screens, which could be achieved by moving to the paperless system ranged from 19 to 56 minutes (mean = 36 minutes). When calculated by batch the mean time saving per woman screened by moving to the paperless system was 42 seconds. This equates to 583 hours of administrative work per year in a centre screening 50,000 women. Conclusions: The paperless system has many benefits compared to the original system in terms of reductions in waste, time and cost. The simplification and standardisation of the process resulted in fewer tasks and interfaces where errors could occur, hence inadvertently improving patient safety. The limitation of the work is the heavy reliance on technology, live interfacing with computer databases and software stability is necessary for a paperless system to be used in NHS practice.

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Taylor-Phillips, S. , Grove, A. , Hoffmeister, S. , Wheaton, M. , Coult, S. , Essex, J. , Hackney, J. , Cioccio, S. and Clarke, A. (2014) Going “paperless” in an English National Health Service (NHS) breast cancer screening service: The intriduction of fully digital mammography. Health, 6, 468-474. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.65065.

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