Co-ordination Centre Programme launches at Countess
New patient flow technology is launching at the Countess of Chester Hospital that will reduce the time people spend in hospital by improving bed management and giving staff more time to care for patients.
The Co-ordination Centre Programme uses 4,000 sensors installed throughout the site to create a real-time picture of the entire hospital, giving the location of tagged equipment and picking up data from badges and electronic wristbands staff and patients are being asked to wear.
This information is sent to a Co-ordination Centre, which acts like an air traffic control room, where decisions can be made in patients’ best interests and to reduce waiting times where possible using the real-time data.
“The Co-ordination Centre will make us more responsive, giving our nurses and doctors more time to spend with patients by reducing the administrative and housekeeping tasks they currently have to do,” Chief Executive Tony Chambers said. “Where in the past a series of phone calls might have been needed to source a piece of equipment or get an update on a patient having a scan or procedure, the Co-ordination Centre can provide this information at a glance, helping more patients get to the right bed, to be seen by the right specialists, first time.”
He added: “We are the first NHS hospital to adopt the full suite of this technology and it’s really exciting for us to be one of the first to use it in the UK. It’s still early in the process for us and it might take time to see the full benefits but I’m very proud of our team for being brave enough to take this on. I know others will soon follow our lead and it represents a significant investment in our future success as a hospital.”
Initial findings at the Countess…
- Time from a patient being discharged to their hospital bed being ready for a new patient – under 2.5 hours. This is down from around four hours before the Co-ordination Centre Programme
- Bed Turnaround Team – clean an average of 323 beds a week, which is 60 per cent of all ward beds cleaned, releasing an average of 156 hours a week back to nursing staff
- Porters – An average of 700 porter requests are logged daily, with over 180,000 being completed since this part of the system was first introduced in March
The award-winning system being installed at the Countess has been created by TeleTracking Technologies and it is being used to manage 50 per cent of all acute hospital beds in North America and at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust in the UK, with clear evidence it makes a positive and significant difference to patient flow.
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust was the first in the UK to install real time tracking of patients and staff in 2014. Since then they have seen the number of cancelled operations (due to lack of beds) decrease by 63%, a 42% reduction in patients in the wrong bed for their condition, freeing up an additional 9 surgical beds per day, and medical average length of stay has reduced by 11%.
At the Countess there are 24 wards, 16 theatres, four outpatient departments, radiology, endoscopy and an Accident & Emergency Unit. In any given stay a patient could have to move across any of these clinical areas multiple times.
Managing that transition can present challenges, with clinical site co-ordinators and patient flow managers hosting many meetings throughout the day and physically visiting these different areas to create the kind of picture that the Co-ordination Centre will now provide in real-time.
Increased speed and automation are some of the biggest positives the system will bring to the Countess, with a new porter request process and bed turnaround team making a real difference on the wards.
Porters, whose duties include transporting patients and collecting equipment, now have jobs sent to them via hand-held devices, which gives them all the information they need to start and complete a job at a glance. Previously, these tasks were sent out via bleeps or face-to-face requests, but under the new system they can focus on one job at a time and every request is logged to increase transparency, improve efficiency and workload balance.
A new bed turnaround team has been recruited to work in a similar way, with alerts being sent to their hand-held devices as soon as someone is discharged so they can clean the bed ready for the next patient more quickly.
Patient flow manager Adam Brown said: “I’ve been really impressed by how quickly our clinical site co-ordinators and other staff have adapted to the system so far. We’ve only been working with it for a few weeks but we’re already seeing improvements. What’s great for our team in particular is the increased transparency the real-time data provides to enable us to make better, more reactive decisions in the interests of patient care. The co-ordinators no longer need to walk around doing laps of all our wards to gather the information we need, it’s all there on screen.”
Medical Director Ian Harvey said: “It’s important for patients that they don’t spend more time in hospital than they need to, with everything we do geared towards getting them seen by the right people first time, limiting any factors that can lengthen their stays along the way. The increased transparency of the Co-ordination Centre will help us do this, allowing our teams to collaborate more seamlessly across A&E, wards, theatres and radiology. It’s a bold change to the way we work logistically that has the potential to make things much better for both our staff and patients.”
Bernard Quinn, director of improvement programmes at NHS Improvement said: “The Countess of Chester is one of four national pilot sites testing teletracking technology, and is leading the way to help improve patient flow, to ensure patients get the care they need, in the right place as quickly as possible.
“We look forward to continuing to work with them, and sharing their lessons with the rest of the NHS.”
Neil Griffiths, Managing Director of TeleTracking Technologies UK said: "TeleTracking is delighted to partner with The Countess of Chester on their digital transformation programme, the Model Hospital. The establishment of the Trust wide Co-ordination Centre enables real time patient flow and transparency to help ensure that patients are in the right place at the right time and consistently getting the highest quality and most effective care.”