20 September 2019
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PATIENTS are being safely moved through and out of our hospital more speedily - thanks to a home-grown innovation that was launched last week.
A new app has been developed which, for the first time, relays real-time patient information from the wards to our digital health control centre at the touch of a button.
Its technology pinpoints the live status of a full range of factors that could cause unnecessary delays to a patient’s transfer or discharge.
This includes everything from awaiting a review on the ward, or a pre-discharge scan; through to awaiting medication to take out, or transport.
Armed with this information, the centre can immediately identify at-a-glance where our resources need to be best deployed across our wards and departments to unblock any hold-ups and improve patient flow.
The troubleshooting app is currently being trialled by 20 Flow Facilitators across six surgical and medical wards, as part of a six-month pilot project. It also includes a secure “Walkie-Talkie” facility to help two-way communications.
It has been brought to life in-house thanks to our Global Digital Exemplar and Future Digital teams, with support from our Information Management and Technology department.
Clinicians also played an important role in shaping the research that ensured the app was fully tailored to our needs.
The Patient Flow Tasks app is designed to generate benefits in four key ways:
- Improving the way and time in which we respond to patients’ needs
- Spotlighting all factors that are holding up or blocking discharge in a speedy and visible way
- Providing measurable demand and response times
- Reducing the current analogue communication processes
Just over a week into the trial, and Initial feedback has been positive - with users already reporting it is making a positive difference.
Gina Huxley, our Patient Flow Coordinator, has witnessed the improvements first-hand in her role at the heart of the control centre. She said: “This adds a new and exciting digital dimension to our work.
“By harnessing technology, and eliminating paperwork, it fast-tracks every strand of our processes - helping removing barriers to discharge and enhancing patient flow.
“Looking to the future, it will equip us with a rich seam of data that we can analyse, and use to design quality improvement measures for tackling specific issues.
“It also gives us valuable information which we can harness to help inform next year’s winter planning.
“Even though we have only been using the app and the dashboard for less than two weeks, we can already see multiple-use cases beyond what we started. These support departmental and Trust wide initiatives and will allows us to provide immediate extrapolation of data to the required teams.”
The early benefits already being reported include:
- Flow Facilitators feeling more organised carrying out their role electronically
- Doctors embracing the initiative and contributing to its initial success
- Better and faster communications between staff members, with the added bonus of a message replay function
- Less time spent by Flow Facilitators chasing up tasks thanks to the system’s in-built automatic escalation
- Less time spent on the phone checking on progress with the control centre
- A more standardised, and less fragmented, patient flow process
Where improvements have been suggested by users - such as extending the time before automatic timeout - these are being acted upon.
James Mullen, one of the Flow Facilitators involved in the pilot, said: ““When I first got the app I thought this was going to be the bane of my life - but now I’m pretty much dependent on it!
“I feel my days are much more organised because all my tasks are in front of me, I’m a lot less dependence on the paper handover,
“I’ve only been using the app for one week and I’ve found the paper handover hardly comes out of my pocket.”
And colleague Ashley Povey added: “And colleague (Ashley) added: “I think the app is ace, it promotes teamwork and working as one to overcome a problem.
“It’s a great experience for me to see mobile devices being used in patient care.”
The development of the app forms just one of more than 50 digital projects that have so far been turned into reality through our Global Digital Exemplar change programme.