Why do we need a document naming standard?

The NHS has a million patient contacts nearly every day and these contacts generate information. While more of that is being recorded in digital record systems, much is still held in paper documents that are contained in care records. Add in social care information and document numbers increase significantly. People with complex health and care histories can easily have hundreds of documents in their health and care records which may need to be retrieved urgently in order to provide on-going care.

In most of our hospitals and community-based health and care services (i.e. excluding primary care) there is no single source of a care record. The record is a mix of paper and digital information spread over many computer systems.

Documents are one of the most common ways of sharing information. So it is essential that documents – both digital, scanned paper and historic ones – are named in a standardised way so that they can be located easily in digital systems to support safe, efficient and effective care. Putting time and effort into naming documents consistently and logically will distinguish similar documents from one another at a glance, and by doing so will facilitate their search and retrieval and enable users to browse file names more effectively and efficiently. Naming documents according to agreed standards should also make naming easier for colleagues because they will not have to ‘re- think’ the process each time.

The aim of the project was to develop a single national standard and guidance for the naming of digital health and social care documents, which recognises existing naming standards already in use in Scotland and internationally.