The work of two NHS trusts in using technology to enhance patient safety, cut lengths of stay, and identify patients at risk of serious conditions such as sepsis, has been highlighted to the wider NHS by two case studies from NHS Improvement.

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust feature in the studies. They show how staff quickly identify patients at risk of deterioration, with the help of Patientrack, a technology used by nurses to capture patient vital signs and to alert doctors when urgent attention is needed.

The Central Manchester study reveals how acutely ill patients are receiving much faster responses from clinicians, following the introduction of electronic vital signs observations and automated clinical alerts that escalate when patients show signs of being at risk. The impact seen includes a significant reduction in length of stay and admissions to intensive care.

Use of the technology, which in practical terms enables nurses to end a reliance on paper, has meant a shift to more quickly and accurately recording vital signs on mobile devices, with the software automatically calculating an ‘early warning score’. For patients with a score that demands a swift clinical intervention, responses have improved dramatically.

Expanding the use of Patientrack

The trust has also looked to expand the uses of this technology for diabetic patients, those with sepsis, and those on the end of life care pathway. Cognitive computing analysis is being used to establish whether predictive analytics could better anticipate a patient’s pathway, which could help with earlier discharge.

NHS Improvement’s study at Western Sussex Hospitals highlighted how staff have used Patientrack to go beyond initial measurements of their patients’ physiological scoring, to introduce tools to identify deteriorating patients at risk of sepsis, and other deadly conditions including acute kidney injury (AKI).

All staff groups agreed the impact of the new AKI alert on staff was positive, with senior clinical staff stating that it helped them identify which patients need the most urgent care.

In addition, the study noted that Western Sussex Hospitals has captured large amounts of information to support further research in clinical risk. It stated: “Being able to identify patients at risk of deterioration early on and to collect large amounts of data with minimal effort, helped the trust to improve care through early intervention. It also made significant contributions to scientific development in this area, to the benefit of the whole NHS.”

The technology has also inspired staff to apply it to other crucial areas, such as automated sepsis alerts and nursing workload management.

Patientrack has been working with both trusts for several years. The case studies show how other NHS trusts can use such technology to enhance patient care in many areas.

“NHS Improvement’s case studies show that NHS staff, armed with the right technology and support, can make a significant impact on vital areas such as managing deteriorating patients, allocating medical staff to those in most need, and enhancing patient flow,” says Patientrack managing director Donald Kennedy.

“To see this work highlighted by NHS Improvement is testimony to the work put in by both trusts in successfully empowering frontline staff with technology that helps them deliver more effective and efficient care.”