Whittington Health Patients Now Even Safer Thanks To New Paperless Technology
12 Dec 2018
New digital technology which replaces old-fashioned paper charts at the end of patients’ beds is now being used in all of Whittington Hospital’s adult wards after the fastest ever implementation of the system. The trust is also investing in more new technology that it hopes will replace over 1 million pieces of paper each year.
Patients being treated at Whittington Hospital’s adult wards are now seeing staff recording details of their vital signs like breathing, blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, pulse and temperature onto iPods and iPads instead of onto paper charts kept at the end of their bed.
The ‘CareFlow Vitals’ electronic observation system is cutting the amount of time it takes to complete a set of patient observations and reducing the likelihood of recording errors. Crucially, combined with the clinical skills and judgement of staff, it helps to identify deteriorating patients more rapidly, allowing specialist care to be provided quicker. There is strong evidence that the more quickly deteriorating patients are identified the more avoidable deaths are prevented.
As a result of making patient observations digital, for the first time doctors and any clinical specialists are able to see the condition of all of their patients in real time from any trust computer or iPad.*
Speaking about the successful implementation of the system, Whittington Health NHS Trust Chief Executive Siobhan Harrington said: “The safety of our patients is our top priority. That is why we are investing in new technology to make our patients even safer. The fact that at the same time we can become more efficient is a bonus. I know from talking to staff on our wards that they are really enthusiastic about the Vitals system and that is reflected by the fact that the project was delivered in record time.”
Dale Carrington, Chief Nursing Information Officer at Whittington Health NHS Trust who has helped lead the implementation project, which was completed in just four months from the date the contract with the supplier was signed to the final ward adopting it, said: “The system is already making a difference to patient care. Over 30,300 full sets of observations have been recorded on the system so far, that averages out at over 1,000 a day and that figure is increasing. As a project team we are thrilled that the roll out went without a hitch. I am sure that this is down to the fact that staff at every level and in many different clinical areas were involved in planning this work – it has been a real team effort. We have also benefited enormously from our partnership with University Hospitals of Bristol as part of the Global Digital Exemplar Programme, which saw us learning from their experience of implementing electronic observations.”
Early in 2019 the system will begin to roll out to the hospital’s Emergency Department, maternity and paediatrics wards. As part of this, Whittington Health will become the first trust other than Great Ormond Street Hospital to use a new standardised measure of deterioration in children developed by GOSH. After this, all of the trust’s children and young people’s wards will say goodbye to paper observation charts as well.
In another example of the trust’s commitment to deliver the highest standards of compassionate safe care, plans are now in place to introduce another new system which is expected to remove over 1 million pieces of paper from the trust each year, saving over £3,500 per year in the cost of buying paper alone.
Designed for the NHS, ‘CareFlow Connect’ is a fast, secure and reliable service for instant messaging, file sharing and real-time messaging which will allow authorised clinicians to discuss and update each other about individual patients wherever the treating clinicians are located. Not only will it help to improve communication between teams in the hospital, but staff working in our community teams will also be able to communicate directly with colleagues in the hospital or another community team. All participants will have instant access to the records for the patient in question and all conversations will automatically be captured in the patient’s notes. This will help to further join up hospital and community care and improve integration of services for Whittington Health patients.
The trust is investing around £5 million in digital innovations to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of its patient care. In addition, the trust has received £5 million in matched funding from NHS England’s Global Digital Exemplar programme which is designed to spread digital best practice and innovation across the NHS.
*Access to any patient data is only available to authorised colleagues. They must log into the Vitals and Careflow systems before any data can be accessed.