Doncaster trust improves bariatric bed management

Solution enhances patient safety and experience, saves £50,000 a year, and introduces clinical support safety net for staff

Medstrom will provide a bariatric bed rental service at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust(DBTH) is one of Yorkshire’s leading acute trusts, serving a population of more than 420,000 across South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and the surrounding areas.

Hosting three main hospital sites, and a number of additional services, the trust is one of only five teaching hospitals in Yorkshire and is projected to train 25% of all medical students in the region by 2018.

The trust currently trains 30% of all other healthcare professional students.

A modern and forward-facing trust employing over 6,000 members of staff, the hospital provides a full range of local hospital services across Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop, and Montagu Hospital in Mexborough.

There was a real missing link at ward level: experts on hand to check patients had the right product for their specific needs, at the right time, and that staff on the ward were supported to challenge instances of product misuse

With obesity rates rising nationally, and as part of the trust’s commitment to working as closely and as efficiently as possible with its suppliers; in 2016 its medical equipment team undertook a review of bariatric equipment provision.

To ensure the trust was making the most of the public money, the organisation needed to understand what was being spent on the rental of bariatric equipment and identify if, and where, savings could be realised.

Alongside this, issues had been identified around accuracy and consistency of invoicing, high delivery and installation charges and a lack of management information.

Richard Somerset, acting director of procurement at the trust, said: “Switching suppliers always presents its own unique challenges and can often be met with nervousness. However, we believed that by looking for a new partner, we could improve our service, reduce unnecessary costs, and provide a better service for our patients.

“After conducting a comprehensive review we estimated that spend could be reduced by around £50,000 per year by a combination of better asset management and by working with a supplier with a new approach.”

The previous supplier did not offer onsite clinical support as skin integrity lead nurse, Tracy Vernon, said: “In the past, we were provided with equipment but that was it. We didn’t have any kind of clinical support or a dedicated, visible and approachable nurse advisor to provide much-needed specialist advice and guidance.

“There was a real missing link at ward level: experts on hand to check patients had the right product for their specific needs, at the right time, and that staff on the ward were supported to challenge instances of product misuse. Having additional pro-active clinical support would mean we were able to provide a much-more-efficient and effective service.”

Armed with the knowledge that significant cost savings could be achieved, clinical staff better supported, and patient care improved, the trust initiated a tender process to test the market.

The specification was robust, with tendering organisations being asked to clearly evidence in their submission ability and experience in relation to:

  • Asset monitoring: The trust needed a new and improved method of recording asset data, such as cost, usage, location, condition, maintenance, repair and cleaning schedules and so on. Without this vital insight, DBTH was aware that unnecessary cost – and risk - could creep back into the process.
  • Clinical support: Having regular, face-to-face contact with clinically-trained, bariatric equipment specialists would alleviate pressure on clinicians and empower ward staff to help patients access the most-appropriate equipment correctly
  • Value for money: The trust needed to remove unnecessary expenditure and make the most of every penny spent – a key objective for the organisation
  • Quality: The trust wasn’t willing to sacrifice standards of equipment so required a range of cutting-edge equipment to meet patient needs, in order to provide the highest-quality care
  • Patient focus: Care and treatment of local people are of the upmost importance to the trust, with patients at the heart of everything the organisation does. DBTH wanted to work with a partner which shared this same vision

The trust estimates that spend could be reduced by around £50,000 a year with the new contract

Four tender bids were submitted for the hire of bariatric bed, furniture and associated equipment mini competition via the East of England NHS Collaborative Procurement Hub’s Bariatric Furniture & Equipment Framework.

After the tender and associated financial bids were evaluated, two potential suppliers were shortlisted. There then followed formal meetings with suppliers, incorporating product demonstrations, while references were also consulted.

Following this process, Medstrom Healthcare was awarded the contract.

We’ve noticed a tangible drop in rental charges since working with Medstrom, which is partly due to the better handle we now have on assets thanks to Medstrom’s iTracker software

Commenting on the selection process, Nicki Sherburn, matron of the surgical care group, said: “Medstrom won because of the clinical evidence it was able to offer in relation to clinical efficacy on products, clinical support, education and training, and cost.”

Richard Somerset, acting director of procurement, added: “Throughout the process, Medstrom was incredibly accommodating and went the extra mile to provide presentations, answer questions and demo products thoroughly, which was invaluable for both operational and clinical teams.”

Since transitioning to Medstrom’s bed management services, the trust has recorded a number of benefits.

For Andrew Leverton, medical technical services manager, the decrease in rental charges has been significant.

“We’ve noticed a tangible drop in rental charges since working with Medstrom, which is partly due to the better handle we now have on assets thanks to Medstrom’s iTracker software,” he said.

“This helps us to quickly and simply match invoices with rental periods, while facilitating a clearer picture of where equipment is.

“For example, if a bed is on hire and a patient has been discharged, we can now easily stop the product rental.”

Another thing that is proving popular is Medstrom’s key performance indicator (KPI) reporting. This is enabling the trust to not only have real-time access to performance data, but to quickly and accurately respond to requests from auditors and demonstrate financial accountability.

And it’s not just the financial benefits that Medstrom is helping to deliver.

Skin integrity is also an area that is further benefitting from the switch.

Helping the trust provide the right product, to the right patient, at the right time – and empower staff to intervene should a product be unsuitable for a patient’s needs – is adding genuine value.

When it comes to clinical support, the move to Medstrom has been transformational.

Clinical advisors are visible on the wards and hold weekly sessions with clinical and housekeeping staff to ensure bed management is optimised, education and training is provided, and patient care remains a top priority.

Housekeeper, Steve Watson, said: “Medstrom has clinical experts who know the products inside out and are on site weekly to offer advice and support.

“This is really beneficial as healthcare workers often don’t know how to use the beds so access to ongoing training is really helpful. This also gives confidence to patients by adding an extra, visible layer promoting better comfort, care and experience.”

Somerset added: “Previously, a bed was put in place and it was down to the trust to decide whether they needed ‘stepping down’ to different equipment.

“Although we have experts in the trust, it always helps to have that external eye to ask crucial and probing questions and that’s something that’s delivering huge value for us, as well as for our patients.”

The trust now plans to take its relationship with Medstrom a step further by introducing wider provision, to include tilt-in-space chairs and ultra-low beds.

The goal of creating a ‘one-stop shop’ will help the trust achieve its vision of providing all patients with the most-appropriate equipment to support the provision of harm-free, high-quality, personalised care.

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