Patient app 'saves thousands of nursing hours'

31 December 2017, 18:55

An app designed by Great Ormond Street Hospital staff that replaces the traditional clipboard at the end of patients' beds has saved thousands of nursing hours and been hailed as a pioneering use of technology.

Developed by GOSH clinical site practitioner and nurse Sarah Newcombe, the app enables staff to enter the vital signs of up to 350 patients using handheld devices rather than with pen and paper.

The system generates automatic alerts to relevant specialist teams at the hospital if patients show signs of deterioration.

It also enables staff to communicate directly with each other, and crucially they do not need to leave the bedside if they require help with acutely ill patients.

Ms Newcombe told Sky News the app had proved particularly useful on night shifts, when reduced staff have to cover several sites, and it was not previously possible to identify the sickest patients without carrying out a full ward round.

"Quite often we have up to 350 children under our care and the idea came about, particularly from out of hours at night, when we weren't sure or able to identify where our sicker patients were," she said.

"The benefits we have seen following the implementation of this new system are brilliant.

"It has really helped us to improve the visibility of our patients and the response times of clinicians. It has also saved thousands of nursing hours per year, and has delivered more than 50,000 children's 'Early Warning Score' alerts per year."

The NHS has been criticised for failing to adopt new technologies fast enough, and it and the Department of Health have a patchy record in implementing and protecting IT systems.

Bespoke apps like the one developed at Great Ormond Street are increasingly common however, and the NHS, with the support of unions, is seeking to make their use a central part of nurse training.

With a national shortage of around 40,000 nurses it is hoped they will help reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks and increase the time spent with patients.

Caron Swinscoe, clinical lead for nursing at NHS Digital, said: "I absolutely believe people can't work harder and faster anymore.

"What we have got to do is equip them with the tools to be able to release time spent on admin and different pieces of work to spend time on patients.

"The greatest gift you can give a clinician is more time to spend with patients."