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Patient obs go electronic as part of ‘digital revolution’ in Bristol

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Nurses 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, the trust has announced.

“It has made such a difference already in the way we can respond to our patients”

Sarah Beech

The trust has adopted the e-observations software, as part of an intensive two-year programme of IT deployments 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 already used by over 30 NHS trusts across England. Published benefits include significant reductions in cardiac arrests, mortality and hospital length of stay.

Sarah Beech, a ward manager at the Bristol hospital, 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,” she said. “As a nurse in charge you can see who your sickest patients are and you know where your priorities are.”

“You haven’t got your hands full of paperwork, you’re able to focus more on your patients”

Donna Green

Donna Green, a nursing assistant at the trust, 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 is part of an intensive programme of technological innovations, put in place following the trust’s selection as one of NHS England’s flagship Global Digital Exemplar sites, chosen to help accelerate clinical systems development across the NHS.

It 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.

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