Secondary Care

University Hospital Southampton introduces electronic whiteboards to improve patient safety

Staff at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are introducing interactive whiteboards on wards as part of a major digital transformation project. The touchscreen technology displays information taken directly from a patient’s electronic record, including clinical alerts such as existing medical conditions, length of admission and predicted discharge date. It also acts as a tracking system to identify what is preventing discharge when patients are medically fit to leave hospital.

Previously this information was written on boards by hand when patients were admitted to or moved, which required staff to take time out to interpret and re-write a patient’s notes and increased the risk of inaccuracies during translation.

It is hoped the rollout, which began on the older people’s wards at Southampton General Hospital, will be completed on all wards by the end of the year.

The four-year project will see the trust receive £10 million – doubling investment in the informatics strategy – to pioneer innovations in information management and technology with the aim of becoming a paperless organisation.

Adrian Byrne, director of informatics, said: “This is another important step forward in our drive to enhance the use of digital technology across clinical services. Replacing handwritten notes on whiteboards may not seem revolutionary, but saving the time taken to write up notes repeatedly when patients move and minimising the risk of inaccuracies is a significant development.”

Nilesh Patel, technical solutions manager, added: “The touchscreen technology provides a modern approach of presenting clinically-relevant information to support patient care and aid decision-making and the interactive application is a fantastic new innovation to help staff care for their patients.”

Dr Daniel Baylis, a consultant geriatrician and part of the pilot team, said: “I have been impressed with the intuitive nature of the electronic whiteboards – they are clear and easy to use and successfully support team-working and patient care co-ordination on the wards.”

Katie Prichard-Thomas, divisional head of nursing, added: “This innovation will improve the safety and quality of patient care dramatically and feedback from ward staff has been extremely positive. The system assigns relevant clinical alerts to patients, such as conditions like diabetes and dementia, which will be flagged up on future admissions and provide an early warning signal for staff to consider when planning a patient’s care.”