Legacy systems and manual processes are a drain on frontline staff, using up valuable time and energy. Making information readily available where it’s needed will lead surely to better outcomes for patients, but where should we be focusing to boost NHS productivity?
It has long been evident that a good proportion of NHS frontline staff time is used to deal with manual and paper processes. Often this consists of chasing basic information and/or checking its validity. The unfortunate fact is the time it takes to gather data in this way significantly increases the risk of it being out-of-date, wasting precious time that could be spent elsewhere. Some common examples include:
- Physically walking from the wards to A&E to obtain information on patient flow/bed use and discuss/manage actions to avoid 4-hour breaches
- Paging and waiting for pages to be answered and then exchanging (possibly out-of-date) information over the phone
- Chasing important information and checking for accuracy to feed into the PAS
- Filling out discharge forms/referrals which are then faxed or emailed to an admin team to action. This can be up to hundreds of forms a day per Trust
- Managing complex discharges, where patients require input from multiple community-based teams e.g. social services, GP and CPN
Inevitably, the volume and disjointed nature of these communications leads to inaccuracy and duplication of effort. As the acute environment becomes busier the inherent risk associated with paper increases requiring further time and effort from staff and impacting negatively on patient care. What’s more, a paper-based system makes no contribution to the task of collecting the reliable data required for Payment-By-Results schemes.
How we can free-up frontline staff to boost NHS productivity?
The right software can digitise and, in some ways, automate manual processes and boost NHS productivity. It can dramatically reduce wasted time, as well as significantly increase the accuracy of data collected. ExtraMed has focused much of its product development on creating intuitive solutions that augment and support staff, evolving with their needs and experience.
- Provide a single shared view of patient and department status, helping staff to communicate, collaborate, save time and focus on better patient care
- Reduce administrative activity and error-prone paper work ensuring that staff can focus on process and performance improvement (data and not handwriting). Structured information that is clear and unequivocal
- Operate in real time, and present in a visual, clear format all of the information necessary for efficient A&E and bed management
- Allow any clinician or manager to view the current situation in A&E and the bed status on a centrally located large interactive whiteboard or on any PC in the hospital. This provides a considerable saving in staff time and effort in terms of communication, reporting and create reports. It also helps managers to support frontline staff in a much more responsive and timely way
- Ease the pressure on existing staff, remove the need for surveillance roles and provide the management information needed to implement best practice and further process and performance improvements
- Improve communication between key stakeholders: bed managers, discharge facilitators, A&E staff, AAU staff, social services leading to greater efficiencies
- Smooth out-patient flow by removing bottlenecks and improved handling of predicted peaks and troughs – GP peak times etc
- Plan elective surgeries more effectively so fewer elective cancellations
- Reduce, even remove the need for, bed management meetings
- Improve discharge process – ExtraMed gives the Discharge Team – and others involved in the care pathway – earlier visibility of patients’ needs, helping everyone to manage caseloads and prepare for discharges
- Reduces GP/community nurse/social services home visits as users can see when a patient has been admitted to hospital overnight
Supporting teams with proactive alerting
Our proactive alert system improves the admissions process and outcomes for patients. It means that the system is supporting teams by looking for meaningful changes or statuses that may require action.
One example, it where patients presenting at A&E are already on a specialist care register. The ExtraMed solution has made a significant impact on healthcare teams, alerting staff to up to 70 patient attendances every day, across five specialist registers at East Cheshire NHS Trust. The Alerter supports A&E with management of complex patients, helps to reduce length of stay for admitted patients, provides continuity of care, and improves care quality and patient outcomes.
Derby City Council & Derby County Council also have automated alerts, which enable them to see when patients on their current care lists are in hospital and act accordingly where relevant. The A&E Department (Frail and Elderly Team) are using ExtraMed (FEAT) referrals enabling community teams to have sight of the admission and enable them to give immediate support which often means admissions are avoided.
Recognising the time-saving value offered by a digitally-enabled NHS is widely accepted. However, making sure that solutions work in the way that individuals and teams work is the real challenge and key to boosting NHS productivity. See for yourself how ExtraMed is making a difference – Contact us to arrange a demo.