Senior NHS professionals say real-time visibility of beds is a priority

Posted on 3 March 2016 (Permalink)

Senior NHS professionals discussed operational challenges and barriers to change facing the NHS at the first NHS Conference for Building Sustainable Healthcare, attended by 68 health service professionals and hosted by The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. The conference agenda covered best practices on how real-time operational data is helping hospitals diagnose patient flow blockages and improve operations surrounding patient flow.

Robin Davis, Deputy Director of NHS Elect, commented on how people, process and technology can combine to create sustainable change: "I have seen many improvement projects flounder due to difficulties in collecting reliable data to measure progress. Real-time data allows ward managers to focus on delivering excellent care and getting patients discharged."

This conference followed the recent release of Lord Carter's independent report on Operational Productivity and Performance in English NHS Hospitals: Unwarranted Variations, indicating that delays in discharging patients from beds could be costing the NHS £900 million pounds a year. The report found vast inefficiencies across the NHS, with particular focus on staff productivity, poor patient flow and lost bed capacity due to bed-blocking.

Conference host, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, discussed the opportunities afforded by technology to enable operational efficiencies - its SafeHands programme features in the Carter Report (p63). The trust uses an operational platform from TeleTracking Technologies, Inc. to track patients, assets and staff in real-time, as well as co-ordinate placement of patients through a centralised patient placement and coordination centre, enabling timely care across the entire organisation.

Staffing, patient flow, technology innovations, operational challenges and barriers to change were widely discussed by conference delegates and speakers. Key participants in the agenda included David Loughton CBE, Chief Executive of The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, The Carilion Clinic, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and Robin Davis, Deputy Director of the NHS Elect.

The group agreed that cultural change is difficult and requires the right tools, like the technology offered by TeleTracking, to deliver vital changes in culture to drive improved patient care and asset management. "The level of real-time information offered by TeleTracking is incredible" continued Robin Davis:

 "The TeleTracking system clearly gives NHS leaders an exciting opportunity to start trying to solve patient flow issues as opposed to spending hours trying to collect data and information to diagnose where the patient flow blockages are.  I can see how the hours spent in regular operational bed meetings discussing free beds and expected discharges will be consigned to history. The information available from the TeleTracking system will also fast track through the challenge of collecting robust and reliable data for quality improvement work."

Lucy Chatwin, Business Manager at West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN), said: "In order to focus efforts, the NHS needs to have the appropriate systems in place to provide the necessary data and information to allow prioritisation. The WMAHSN is licensed by NHS England to create the environment to identify and spread innovation at pace and scale, fostering opportunities for industry to work effectively with the NHS and spreading best practice to increase productivity and reduce variation, thereby improving patient outcomes. TeleTracking has demonstrated how it is able to provide this information in order to identify and manage variation within the hospital environment, and is a great asset to any organisation making changes in order to demonstrate efficiency and safety outcomes."  

"To see so many senior people coming together to discuss this issue is a positive development. We are keen to explore the value we can bring to other trusts across the UK who have yet to address patient access and flow," said Dr. Julia Fishman, Vice President, Clinical Operations at TeleTracking.

"The trailblazers in the UK are creating better patient care by eliminating wait times and waste. Culturally, some of these ideas are challenging to traditional thinking but the leaders at the First NHS Conference have a belief that real change can be driven with an innovative approach to real-time data management," commented TeleTracking President Mike Gallup.

The content from the conference is available as below: 

Using Real-Time Locating to Improve Patient Safety Clare Nash, Programme Manager, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust

Patient Flow and the Importance of Porters Sean Boulton, Estates Officer, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Operations Centre: Your Mission Control Melanie Morris, Director, Communications and Transfer Centre, Carilion Clinic 

Clinical Engagement Dr Susan Lee, Chief of Hospitalist Team, Carilion Clinic