Vital signs technology saves nurses thousands of hours

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust links vital signs monitors directly with electronic patient record to help improve nurses’ working lives

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has saved 5,800 hours of nursing time since introducing vital signs monitoring devices from Welch Allyn.

Nursing staff are using the Welch Allyn Connex monitoring devices across hundreds of beds to capture important clinical observations for patients in their care.

The new devices are designed to help eliminate the need for nurses to manually enter patient data, capturing physiological measurements at the bedside and automatically transferring crucial information directly to the trust’s electronic patient record system.

Sets of clinical parameters captured are then used to generate a National Early Warning Score (NEWS) that tells hospital staff when a patient is at risk of deterioration.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust reports that by using the new system, staff are saving time and are now alerted more quickly to patients requiring immediate intervention.

Named as a Global Digital Exemplar by NHS England in March 2017, the trust has so far deployed the Welch Allyn Connex monitoring technology in 25% of its wards, with intentions to deploy the vital signs monitoring devices more widely, following early high-impact results around time savings.

Gerry Bolger, chief nursing information officer and clinical lead for nursing informatics at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This is a very-exciting development for our hospitals.

“We have seen significant time-releasing benefits so far and the next step is to roll out more of the connected bedside monitoring devices throughout our hospitals over the coming months.

We have seen significant time-releasing benefits so far and the next step is to roll out more of the connected bedside monitoring devices throughout our hospitals over the coming months

“We also want to look at how the recorded observations, which are able to provide more-accurate readings, will be able to assist doctors and nurses towards the early identification and treatment of patients at risk of sepsis.”

The new automated process can reduce the time required to take parameters by up to 50%, with over one minute saved each time a set of observations is taken.

This can quickly convert to significant time savings, and the trust estimates that 5,800 hours of time have been released to direct care since the monitors were first introduced in January 2016.

Nefer Mercado, healthcare assistant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We were one of the first wards to get the new bedside systems.

“The new systems have made things a lot easier for our ward when monitoring patients. Now there’s no need to manually add in the observations; the full recordings are logged and with the patient’s record within a minute. It saves me so much time. I now have extra time to spend assisting patients and supporting the nurses on the ward.”

Katie Pritchard, ward manager at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “It has had a real impact on handovers. We can see our patients up on the screen and staff can much more easily examine NEWS scores. This means there is no miscommunication. It is quickly clear when patients need interventions.”

The trust worked in collaboration with Welch Allyn to safely and reliably connect the monitoring devices to the trust’s Cerner electronic patient record system.

Devices have now been installed in 14 clinical areas, supporting 243 beds across the Trust’s hospitals, while reducing the need to manually input two million pieces of data.

The trust has captured more than 90,000 sets of NEWS, providing a profile of risk of deterioration of patients.

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