Innovative technology and better patient care

Source: NHE Sep/Oct 17

Karen Evans, writing on behalf of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS FT (UHMBT), explains the work being undertaken at the trust to roll out clinically-led electronic patient records (EPR).

Over the past eight months the Bay Health and Care Partners (BHCP) and UHMBT in particular have attracted the attention of national and international colleagues for their work on the clinically-led EPR. 

The increasingly mature EPR system at the trust – and the roll-out of the Strata Resource Matching and eReferral system – has brought significant benefits to the staff who are delivering care, and the patients who are receiving better care. 

The EPR has been updated to hold more detail, which brings a range of improvements: 

  • Staff are able to access up-to-date patient information instantly, from anywhere in any of the three hospital sites, wherever the patient is
  • Staff can now easily access patients’ history so that they don’t have to give the same information again and again – something patients find very frustrating
  • An alert to highlight vulnerable patients, e.g. people at risk of falling or with complex conditions
  • Easy access to treatment guidelines, which supports speedier and the most appropriate care for patients
  • A great reduction in the time spent finding paperwork, which means more time spent with patients
  • Integrated real-time access to local GP records, saving time and improving the continuity of care received by our patients
  • Staff working on the EPR are now working closely with clinicians in the community such as GPs to improve access to patient records

David Walker, medical director at UHMBT, said: “One of the challenges in Morecambe Bay is sharing information across three different sites across an area of 1,000sqm. Using technology can really help us deliver better patient services and reduce the time spent by staff on paperwork. I think it’s really important that it is clinicians who are leading this work, as ultimately this is a tool for clinicians to use. We want it to make their working lives easier and, in doing so, give them more opportunities to deliver care in more effective ways for our patients.” 

Improving the EPR means some great projects have taken place to improve patient care. Nursing staff are now carrying out almost 122,000 ‘comfort rounds’ every month using iPods, which enable them to spend more time at a patient’s bedside. Emergency departments at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital have also taken a large stride towards reducing the use of paperwork and using electronic charts instead. 

Urology staff now have an electronic ‘ward round note’ which is active on a patient’s first admission. Sarah J Hart, urology speciality doctor at UHMBT, said: “The immediate benefit comes in continuity of care. What’s been discussed and decided on the previous day’s ward round is now available, easily accessible and can be transferred to the EPR. This means staff who aren’t onsite with the inpatient they’re treating can still gain full access to the EPR.” 

Over the past few months the trust has had some fantastic feedback on the EPR from clinical leaders from around the world. Anne Cooper, chief nurse from NHS Digital, visited us in April. “It’s encouraging for me to see how clearly nursing is leading its own way here in terms of digital maturity and how it’s become embedded into the nursing culture,” she said. “The really strong, powerful nursing leadership here means Morecambe Bay is really setting the pace. It’s really encouraging from a professional point of view to be somewhere were that’s happening.” 

The Transformation Team from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, led by technology innovation director Lisa Needham, visited the trust in August and said: “The overwhelming response from me and the team is that this has been an inspiring day. The can-do attitude here is very evident, along with the positive clinical engagement, great leadership and the clear vision from UHMBT about where it’s going with the EPR.” 

Sedbergh GP Dr William Lumb, joint CCIO for Morecambe Bay CCG, said: “The EPR doesn’t stop at improving hospital care – it is also supporting modernised healthcare in the wider Morecambe Bay community through the Better Care Together clinical strategy. The overarching system – Strata – helps to connect up clinical care between GPs, communities and the hospitals to ensure health professionals have the relevant information about services available for their patient within a few moments and before decisions about a patient are made.”





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