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Electronic whiteboards will ‘improve patient safety’, says head of nursing

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Nursing staff at hospitals in Southampton are introducing interactive whiteboards on wards, as part of a major digital transformation project.

The touchscreen technology displays information taken directly from electronic records, including clinical alerts such as existing medical conditions, length of admission and predicted discharge date.

“This innovation will improve the safety and quality of patient care dramatically”

Katie Prichard-Thomas

It also acts as a tracking system to identify what is preventing discharge when patients are medically fit to leave hospital, said University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Previously the information was written on boards by hand when patients were admitted or moved, which required staff to take time out to interpret and re-write notes and increased the risk of errors.

Nurses and doctors on the medicine for older people’s wards at Southampton General were the first to test the system as part of a successful pilot prior to permanent installation across the trust.

It is hoped the rollout of the technology across the trust will be completed on all wards by the end of the year, said the trust.

It forms part of the trust’s selection as one of 16 digital centres of excellence by the Department of Health, known as “global digital exemplars”.

The four-year project will see the trust receive £10m to pioneer innovations in information management and technology with the aim of becoming a paperless organisation.

“The interactive application is a fantastic new innovation to help staff”

Nilesh Patel

Katie Prichard-Thomas, divisional head of nursing, said: “This innovation will improve the safety and quality of patient care dramatically and feedback from ward staff has been extremely positive.

“The system assigns relevant clinical alerts to patients, such as conditions like diabetes and dementia, which will be flagged up on future admissions and provide an early warning signal for staff to consider when planning a patient’s care,” she said.

Adrian Byrne, director of informatics, said the project was “another important step forward” in the trust’s drive to enhance the use of digital technology across clinical services.

“Replacing handwritten notes on whiteboards may not seem revolutionary, but saving the time taken to write up notes repeatedly when patients move and minimising the risk of inaccuracies is a significant development,” he noted.

Nilesh Patel, the trust’s technical solutions manager, added: “The touchscreen technology provides a modern approach of presenting clinically-relevant information to support patient care and aid decision-making, and the interactive application is a fantastic new innovation to help staff.”

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