'Game changing' tracking solution detects patient deterioration

Patientrack pilot show improved quality of care and changes in clinicians' opinions on the value of IT

New technology is being used by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust to help identify patients whose condition is deteriorating or who should be moved to palliative care settings.

The solution from Patientrack has been deployed on all 38 wards across the trust's two hospital sites, allowing more than 2,000 nurses, doctors and other clinical staff to electronically record observations at the bedside using Acer hand-held devices connected to the trust's upgraded wireless network, before automatically calculating National Early Warning Scores (NEWS).

Ward manager, Leo White, who headed up the project to implement Patientrack, says ward staff have seen a number of benefits already.

Patientrack has also moved the trust toward a culture of real-time patient information and helped to change attitudes about IT from being seen as a bolt-on to being viewed as something that should be at the core of hospital work and integrated into everything we do

She added: "With Patientrack, NEWS calculations are 100% accurate, compared with no more than 80% when recording observations on paper. It takes less time to capture observations and calculate scores using Patientrack than with our previous approach, which was based on calculating scores manually from observations on the paper chart. Also, if the ward gets busy, the system reminds staff which observations are due, so they aren't skipped. Finally, as ward manager, I can quickly see the scores of all the patients and know where to direct my attention."

Dr Richard Venn, a consultant in intensive care and one of the driving forces behind the introduction of Patientrack at the trust, added: "Patientrack has helped nursing staff feel more empowered to get help sooner when they feel a patient needs intervention from a doctor, by providing clear evidence that a patient may be deteriorating. Meanwhile, doctors can view patient charts and observations remotely, allowing them to start making changes to patient care even before arriving on the ward."

The trust is now extending use of the Patientrack solution to provide support for CQUIN assessments such as venous thromboembolism risk (VTE).

"While the key drivers for implementing the system were patient safety and quality of care, including avoiding unnecessary cardiac arrests and minimising the need for transfers to intensive care, we've been able to justify the cost of the system in terms of CQUIN targets," said Dr Venn. "For example, getting VTE prophylaxis right will very nearly pay for the solution by itself. Patientrack is also contributing to efforts at the trust to reduce lengths of stay."

Patientrack was chosen in a competitive tender over another product which had been trialled on two wards for a year. "The introduction of Patientrack has proved to be one of the most successful clinical IT projects at the trust so far, and getting IT to every bedside with Patientrack is providing a foundation on which to deliver other clinical applications,” said Dr Venn. “Patientrack has also moved the trust toward a culture of real-time patient information and helped to change attitudes about IT from being seen as a bolt-on to being viewed as something that should be at the core of hospital work and integrated into everything we do."

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