Nurses are at the heart of healthcare delivery in the NHS and form the largest staff group involved in patient care working across all care settings - from Accident and Emergency to visiting patients at home.
It takes a caring, compassionate and dedicated professional to juggle such a wide range of tasks and communicate clearly with colleagues and patients. However, many of these tasks are still rooted in seemingly endless levels of paperwork. It’s not unusual for Nurses to face over one hundred different paper forms when admitting, assessing, monitoring and discharging patients; often having to fill out the same information over and over again.
So why have nurses traditionally been poorly served by IT? Well, there are 3 broad reasons for this.
Firstly, the emphasis on IT development in healthcare seems to focus largely on administrative processes and medical support – there’s been little in the way of targeted functionality to support nurses in their day-to-day activities.
Secondly, the traditional delivery of IT on fixed PCs in offices and workstations does not match the actual practices and workflows of Nurses within the ward i.e. speaking to patients at the bedside, or travelling to homes within the community. The constant back and forth when entering and viewing patient information is time consuming, and distracts the Nurses from spending their time interacting with the patient.
And lastly, there have been barriers to adoption generally. IT systems need to be designed to support the main purpose of nursing, which is to manage patient care safely and efficiently. It’s hard to justify diverting precious time to input stuff into computers if it is not seen as useful or a time wasting distraction from providing direct patient care.
Thankfully things are now moving forwards on a number of fronts.
Nurses are becoming ever more IT literate, with the growing adoption of technology at home and in the workplace. Widespread Wi-Fi hotspots and the introduction of mobile technologies such as tablet and smartphone devices means that it is now possible to deliver solutions to staff on the move, and give nurses the right information, at the right place and at the right time.
CGI is working closely with its client to develop effective Nurse/Ward technologies:
- We’ve developed touch screen drag and drop ward management systems that allow nurses to move patients between beds and wards.
- Our Electronic Patient Status at a Glance (PSAG) boards have replaced hand written whiteboards at St Marys Hospital on the Isle of Wight providing nursing staff with an overview of admitted patients, refreshing automatically every few seconds.
- Developed e-forms to replace paper that auto-populate with patient information to reduce the amount of input for nurses.
- Delivered electronic ward handover systems which allow nurses and clinical teams to share information and transfer care safely and efficiently.
- Working with an SME partner through our SME Accelerate Program to deliver a tablet based touch screen nursing observation and assessment system.
- Embarking on the development of a range of mobile applications as an extension of our Integrated Health Record and Portal solution, e-CareLogic – to support nurse interactions with patients. The first of these, Find My Patient is due to go live at University College London Hospitals UCLH NHS Foundation Trust (screenshot below).
The key to all of this has been real engagement with nurses, listening to them and observing them at work. This is crucial in making sure that the technology does what it should – enable nurses to support care, rather than trying to shoehorn another application and task into an already busy workload.
If you would like to know more about how CGI is working with its clients to create solutions at all levels and environments in the Health economy, please contact the team.