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13 February 2018

Patient observations go electronic


Nurses and doctors at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust have begun using mobile electronic devices to record patient observations as part of a digital revolution improving the care of patients.

More than 500 clinical staff are now using mobile devices to record patient observations rather than writing them on paper charts.

UH Bristol is using System C's Vitals e-observations software, as part of its appointment as a Global Digital Exemplar, which means an intensive two-year programme of IT deployments at the Trust, designed to benefit patients and improve working practices.  All medical and surgical inpatient wards across the Trust are due to begin using the software in a rolling programme over the next three months. 

Staff are using System C's Vitals e-observations system (previously known as Vitalpac) to monitor and record a patient's vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and temperature.

The software also automatically calculates the national early warning scores (NEWS), proactively warning staff of patients whose condition is deteriorating.

Additional functionality being rolled out now includes fluid management and in-dwelling device management. Future options include assessments for dementia, sepsis, alcohol intake, the risk of blood clots, and acute kidney injuries.

The software is used by over 30 NHS Trusts across England. Published benefits include significant reductions in cardiac arrests, mortality and hospital length of stay. 

Chris Bourdeaux, a consultant on the general intensive care unit (ICU) at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), said: "It has been so impressive to see how quickly staff have picked up and adopted the Vitals software.  The benefits in terms of patient care have already started feeding through, and at a time of year when hospitals are particularly busy."

Sarah Beech, a ward manager at the BRI, said: "It has made such a difference already in the way we can respond to our patients. We can see all of the observations for our patients in one go. As a nurse in charge you can see who your sickest patients are and you know where your priorities are."

Donna Green, a nursing assistant at the BRI, added: "It's a much more patient-friendly way of working. Because you haven't got your hands full of paperwork, you're able to focus more on your patients."

The launch of mobile e-observations at UH Bristol is part of an intensive programme of technological innovations, put in place following UH Bristol's selection as one of NHS England's flagship Global Digital Exemplar sites, chosen to help accelerate clinical systems development across the NHS.

UH Bristol is working in partnership with its technology partner System C on 20 major projects and many smaller ones, all designed to bring improvements for patients and staff.  They are focused on improving the overall health of the population, improving patient interactions, reducing deviations in care, and improving efficiency.