Secondary Care

Bolton boosts hospital at night patient safety with mobile tech

Patients in need of attention for everything from chest pains to seizures on wards at night, are receiving better and faster co-ordinated responses from nurses and doctors, now that Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has deployed a system called Patientrack. The trust is the first in the country to use the technology solely to help manage the hospital at night.

Welcomed by staff at Royal Bolton Hospital, the technology is helping to improve patient safety and to save important time in co-ordinating crucial interventions for patients at night, whilst providing detailed evidence of real-time frontline pressures to senior hospital managers.

Nurses are now using Patientrack to log more quickly when their patients need a doctor’s attention for anything from chest pains to compromised airways, seizures, high early warning scores, and a wide range of other urgent and less urgent tasks.

Patientrack immediately sends tasks raised at the bedside and accompanying information to Bolton’s hospital at night team, where staff use the system to quickly allocate the task to an appropriate doctor, with a secure alert sent directly to the doctor’s mobile phone. This contains links to information about the location and condition of the patient, details about the action required, and a timeframe in which a response is needed.

Nurses no longer need to spend time manually filling out task forms, which are now automatically populated with patient information from the hospital’s patient administration system. And doctors are no longer taken away from treating patients to respond to bleeps.

Dr Simon Irving, acute physician and chief clinical information officer at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Patientrack is helping to ensure doctors don’t become overwhelmed trying to find a phone or a PC, when they need to remain with a patient, and has removed the need for nurses to manually bleep only to wait for a response.

“Previously when doctors were bleeped they would not have access to the reason without logging on to a terminal. Now doctors working at night can accept, complete, and even reject when necessary, tasks assigned to them directly on their mobile phone, where they can review information without breaking them from their current task. We can also specify a minimum level of doctor to complete a task, boosting patient safety. The process is much more effective.”

Any tasks that are rejected are automatically sent back to the hospital at night team and are quickly re-routed to doctors with capacity.

Patientrack, which is being used in other NHS hospitals to identify deteriorating patients, and to tackle serious conditions like sepsis and acute kidney injury, was deployed in Bolton quickly and easily. Replacing a legacy system, Patientrack has already had a broader reach than its predecessor, covering medical registrars and acute medical assessment areas for the first time, whilst also allowing a stronger audit of care and better recognition of the true level of work of staff.

Anne-Marie Redford, informatics project manager at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Enthusiasm of staff has been crucial. We had the right people to make this work, driven to improve patient safety. We now have an audit trail of how care is delivered. We can see when a task has been raised and completed, who has raised the job, who assigned it, who agreed to take on the task, the time it was carried out, and when it was completed. At the end of a shift doctors can now document handover electronically, reducing the risk of tasks being lost on paper.

“We are now starting to monitor response times around the hospital to figure out where additional resources are needed at night and at weekends. Previously a doctor might be asked to do several things whilst on a ward, without those tasks being logged on the system. Now we will get a truer reflection of what is happening on the wards than ever before – visibility of the hard work taking place that wasn’t previously recorded.”

Ken Bradshaw, deputy chief information officer at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have moved forward in a big way by using Patientrack for managing the hospital at night. We can now start to use the power of data recorded in Patientrack to understand resourcing, and to look at better ways of dealing with workload as part of the hospital’s wider approach to business intelligence.

“More immediately we now have robust technology with greater coverage, providing frontline staff with new features, that support better and more accountable ways of delivering care. Strong collaboration with the Patientrack team has allowed a seamless transition to a new, yet familiar and intuitive system. Our staff are thinking more than ever about how technology can help them.”

Donald Kennedy, managing director at Patientrack, said: “Bolton’s determination to rollout technology quickly to support the hospital’s patient safety ambitions is admirable. The trust has become the first in the country to use Patientrack solely to tackle challenges that come with delivering care in the hospital at night. We look forward to continuing to work with the trust to respond to further frontline demands in the future.”