News, NHS trust

Real-time bed management system launched at Medway Maritime Hospital said to completely change the way the hospital operates

Medway NHS Foundation Trust has shared how a digital bed management system launched in October 2023 at Medway Maritime Hospital has been saving “1,500 hours a month” for clinical staff, thanks to real-time visibility of available beds, digital wristbands for patients, and a new ‘bed turnaround team’.

The system provides real-time data for staff including whether beds are occupied, when patients are due to be sent home, and when beds are ready to be allocated. It works by providing patients with a digital wristband upon admission, which allows staff at the newly-created Medway Care Coordination Centre to see which bed they are occupying and their current care pathway. When being discharged, clinical staff can deposit the wristbands into a drop box which automatically updates the system.

Since its launch, the trust reports that the system has resulted in reduced bed turnaround times from more than four hours to around two hours and twenty minutes; and saved 161 days of “wasted bed time”, where a clean and empty bed is left without a patient in it. The newly developed bed turnaround team is prompted by the system about empty beds to be cleaned ready for incoming patients, freeing up further time for nursing staff who used to be responsible for turnarounds themselves.

Nick Sinclair, chief operating officer for Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said that the system has “completely changed” the way the hospital operates and helped to improve the flow of patients, adding: “It’s all about working smarter. As well as helping us to understand where bottlenecks existed, and managing our beds in a more efficient way, our staff now have access to the right information at the point when they need it, without logging into several different systems, or requiring multiple callouts to identify capacity and availability. In turn this is helping to improve staff experience and morale and support a better working environment.”

NHS Medway’s new clinical strategy for 2024 – 2027 was recently published, mapping future clinical services and defining how the trust intends to “advance and innovate to provide the best possible healthcare services” for residents, including utilising digitally enabled care, AI in diagnostics and tech to support clinical pathways.

Medway has also seen two deployments of new EPR functionality at Medway Hospital, with Sunrise Order Comms integrated across all inpatient areas and emergency care documentation introduced within the trust’s paediatric Penguin Assessment Unit.