Thursday 29 September 2016

Hospitals 'losing millions of euro due to chart omissions'

Published 23/11/2015 | 02:30

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The head of one of the country's largest hospital groups has warned that millions of euro are being lost to hospitals each year due to out-of-date recording practices.

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The head of one of the country's largest hospital groups has warned that millions of euro are being lost to hospitals each year due to out-of-date recording practices.

Maurice Power, CEO of the Saolta Hospital Group, said simple changes including how patient records are collected could save a significant amount of money for each hospital.

Calling for electronic patient records (EPRs) to be implemented, Mr Power said such a system would save significant amounts of money and free up staff for frontline services.

Currently millions of euro are lost to hospitals each year due to problems with how activities on patients' charts is entered, such as the omission of treatments like physiotherapy. This means the hospital can then not charge for all of the treatment provided to a patient.

A survey carried out by the Saolta group in 2013 found that every 0.1pc of activity entered incorrectly is costing the hospital group €400,000.

That equates to €4m per 1pc of activity incorrectly entered.

"That's a huge amount of money," said Mr Power.

"It might sound very simple, but there are pockets of activity happening in our hospitals that is not recorded and we have to make sure it is recorded, because if it's not on the medical record or, in future in the electronic patient record, it cannot be coded and we won't be able to get paid for it and that's the bottom line," he added.

Speaking at the second Annual Frontiers in Healthcare Conference at NUI, Galway, Mr Power said electronic patient records would also allow consultants to view patient records across all seven hospitals by simply logging on to an iPad or iPhone. This would in turn free up hundreds of staff, who currently ferry records to and from wards and clinics, to do other jobs.

"In Galway alone we have 60 staff pulling from medical records bringing them to outpatient clinics, bringing them to ED (Emergency Department), to an inpatient ward and then coming to collect them when the patient leaves. 60 staff, just doing that sort of work, so what we're saying is lets use those people in frontline services and get an IT system," he added.

"It's an example of how far back we are in terms of IT. One of the reasons is IT, for a long time, was always in the background and it was always about putting money into frontline services, but it is so important we also invest in back office IT environment and develop IT. That is necessary for the group to succeed because there will be savings.

"People talk about where you can generate savings, you can generate more savings by putting in a proper IT system within the group," he added.

The Saolta Hospital Group comprises seven hospitals in the north west including University Hospital Galway and hospitals in Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon and Letterkenny.

Irish Independent

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