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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has today challenged the National Health Service to catch up with the rest of society by finally embracing paperless technology and introducing digital medical records.
"It is crazy that ambulance drivers cannot access a full medical history of someone they are picking up in an emergency – and that GPs and hospitals still struggle to share digital records," says Mr Hunt, who wants to see all documents made virtual by 2018 so that medical records can follow patients around the health and social care systems, enabling doctors to access them at the touch of a button.
In addition, Mr Hunt says emails should replace letters when referring patients to hospital.
A recent report by Price Waterhouse Cooper found that increased use of IT could save the NHS up to £4.4 billion, whilst also streamlining processes so that the entire health care system can become more efficient.