NHS trusts to pilot fitbit-style tracking devices

Electronic badges and bracelets provide visibility of beds, patients, assets and equipment

Five NHS organisations will be piloting new technology that uses 'fitbit'-style bracelets to track beds, staff, and patients, giving trusts real-time information on bed status, patient pathway tracking, and asset management.

It’s an important step forward to helping the NHS become more efficient - staff will no longer waste time manually counting beds, meaning they can spend more time caring for patients

TeleTracking Technologies detects electronic badges and bracelets attached to patients, staff and equipment, providing staff with visibility of all beds, patients, assets and equipment across a trust.

Similar to air traffic control centres, staff have a real-time view of:

  • Bed status
  • Which patients need to be allocated to a bed
  • Where specific types of equipment are
  • The nearest housekeeping or portering staff available to clean a bed or help transport a patient

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is the first pilot site for the technology and, as a direct result of TeleTracking, patients are three times more likely to be directed to a bed appropriate to their ongoing needs than before using the system.

Other benefits include:

  • A 60% reduction in day surgical cancellations due to lack of beds
  • A 35% reduction in breaches of the four-hour A&E treat, admit or discharge due to lack of beds, despite a 10% increase in attendances
  • An 11% reduction in patients’ medical length of stay
  • A 30% reduction in the total number of bed days occupied by ‘medical outliers’ – these being patients admitted to hospital for a medical condition but placed in a surgical ward for capacity reasons

The new technology enables staff to see real-time data on beds available within the hospital, enabling patients to be allocated to the most-appropriate ward first time, ensuring they receive care from a medical and nursing team who are experts in their particular condition.

The TeleTracking technology pilot now will be rolled out to these additional sites: The Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust; University College Hospitals London NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH); The Mid and South Essex Regime (Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust).

If the NHS is to meet rising demand it must continue to innovate and develop new technologies that enhance and improve patient care

Commenting on the success so far, Health Minister, Philip Dunne, said: “Staff at the Royal Wolverhampton are leading the way with exciting technology to manage patient flow within hospitals, which has the potential to improve the experience for patients significantly across the NHS by cutting down on cancelled surgeries and ensuring patients are in the most-appropriate ward.

“It’s also an important step forward to helping the NHS become more efficient - staff will no longer waste time manually counting beds, meaning they can spend more time caring for patients.”

Adam Sewell-Jones, director of improvement at NHS Improvement, added: “A key part of NHS Improvement’s role is to support NHS trusts in developing new ways of working to improve patient care and meet rising demand.

“TeleTracking is one example of that ambition. This new technology enables staff to see real time data on beds available within the hospital, enabling patients to be allocated to the most appropriate ward first time, ensuring they receive care from a medical and nursing team who are experts in their particular condition.

“If the NHS is to meet rising demand it must continue to innovate and develop new technologies that enhance and improve patient care.”

Speaking about the rollout at UCLH, Lorraine Walton, the hospital's operations manager, said: “This means we can reduce delays in patient care and prevent cancellations of procedures at short notice as a result of not being assured that there will be a bed for the patient to move to.

"Also, by being able to track equipment, we will help ward staff to find what they need to care for patients without delay.”

And Dr Charles House, the trust's interim medical director for the Medicine Clinical Board, added: “The Coordination Centre Programme will make the jobs of our clinical staff easier to perform, removing the frustrations of working around broken processes and freeing up more time to care for patients, while helping to automate many of the supporting logistical workflows such as bed cleaning and portering.”

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