Image of NHS staff using a tablet depicting digital innovation across NHS Wales

Digital tech improving care and saving money across NHS Wales

A range of digital innovations that are improving patient care, cutting waiting times and saving money for the NHS have been highlighted by Welsh health minister, Eluned Morgan.

A patient flow system at Swansea Bay University Health Board, known as Signal, is helping improve safety and reduce delays.

The system informs clinicians in real-time, wherever they are, about the support a patient needs to leave hospital. It tracks patients from their initial admission to their eventual discharge.

Signal also provides insight into capacity across all sites under the health board’s jurisdiction, thus identifying which areas require more support.

Other health boards in Wales are considering adopting a similar system, according to the Welsh Government.

“Clinicians in Swansea Bay are now able to identify critical information about their patients along with outstanding actions that need to be taken, in real time from any device,” said Swansea Bay University Health Board’s digital director, Matthew John.

“This is eliminating administrative delays and blockages.”

Another innovation in Swansea has accrued annual savings of over 5,600 hours of prescriber time across two hospitals.

The electronic prescribing and medicines administration (EPMA) system gives clinicians a digital way to prescribe and administer patient medicines. It has helped cut the amount of time an average nurse spends on drug rounds by 10 minutes at Neath Port Talot Hospital and six minutes at Singleton Hospital.

Per year, almost 9,000 hours have been saved across the hospitals in searching for medication charts.

The Welsh Government has indicated that all other health boards and trusts will start implementing their own EPMA from 1 April 2024.

A piece of technology that is benefitting most hospitals already is the Welsh nursing care record (WNCR) – an innovation that enables staff to record, share and access patient information across health board areas. It has also standardised adult patient data and thus eliminated variation across sites.

Between August 2021 and July 2023, it is estimated that the WNCR saved 1,357,827 pieces of paper documentation in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health board area. This is the equivalent of 135 trees and led to a £1.66 saving per patient in printing – annually, this works out as around £132,800.

The Welsh Government says that any hospitals not currently using the WNCR will start doing so by March 2024.

Eluned Morgan commented: “The benefits of the new digital systems we are funding are clear to see. They are streamlining administrative processes for healthcare staff and allowing them more time to focus on patient care.”

She continued: “As well as improving quality of care they are also saving health boards money during extremely challenging financial times.”

If you want to learn more about digital innovation across the NHS, register for National Health Executive's Digital Health virtual event.

Image credit: iStock

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