Pen and paper is set to be a thing of the past on Rotherham Hospital’s wards thanks to the introduction of electronic observations.
Instead, patients are much more likely to see a nurse or doctor using a laptop to record things such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
Working digitally means that reports about a patient’s condition can be generated quickly and efficiently, supporting clinicians to decide the next steps in a person’s care.
Electronic records have been gradually rolled out across the hospital since 2018 with the majority of inpatient and outpatient areas now carrying out some form of e-observation.
The benefits are clear; electronically gathered data is easily audited and, if errors in care do occur, clinicians can speedily generate a report to help assess what happened, rather than having to trawl through reams of paper records.
Furthermore, going digital has a significant cost saving; with £22,828.63 per year alone previously spent just on nursing assessment paper forms – money which can now be re-directed into other areas of patient care.
Nurses on the hospital’s wards have welcomed the newly introduced technology and are already reaping the rewards of operating in a more time efficient and effective way, enabling them to focus on giving one-to-one care.
Jennie Fisher, from the Trust’s Practice Development Team (PDT), said: “This is one of the biggest changes to ever come about in nursing practice.
“Nurses have done things the same way historically, on paper and for these changes to be embraced in the way they have is simply fantastic.”
To enable digitalisation to go ahead and to ensure ward staff are supported throughout its introduction, the PDT and Health Informatics teams have worked closely together with ward teams, intertwining each team’s respective clinical and digital expertise.
Mr Richard Slater, Consultant surgeon and the Trust’s Chief Clinical Information Officer, added: “In terms of the digital landscape we have come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months. This is down to the practice development and Informatics teams’ hard work.
“We have seen a massive increase in digital user acceptance and I look forward to us realising the benefits of us becoming a fully digital Trust in the near future.”
E-observations are just one of the ways the Trust is digitalising its activities as part of NHS Digital’s national target for Trust’s to be working digitally within the next decade.
Nursing assessments is the latest process to be digitalised and other processes to recently become electronic include the administration of medicines (Electronic Patient Medicines Administration or ‘EPMA’) and the implementation of electronic fluid balance charts, which can be used to help identify life-threatening conditions.
2020 will see electronic blood glucose and hypoglycaemia assessments become digitalised and the introduction of an electronic food chart, used to monitor patients’ nutrition and hydration. SSKIN bundle, nursing admission and discharge processes are also planned to become digital within the first few months of 2020.
The Trust is well on track in making all nursing areas digital by April 2020 and if this aim is achieved it will set TRFT ahead of the game amongst its peers in terms of becoming a digital Trust.