Improving infection control by minimising paper in hospitals
Digital transformation and data driven collaboration has risen to the top of the NHS agenda during the Covid-19 pandemic. Day to day challenges, such as minimising the use of paper documents as part of infection control procedures and supporting staff working in different environments, highlighted the importance of high quality digital data.
IMX-CR: supporting clinicians during the Covid-19 crisis
As Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust discovered, the ability to use the IMX-CR interoperable clinical record – both within the hospital and at home – underlined the power and value of rapid access to complete patient information resources.
Single sign-on supports respiratory team 24/7
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been using IMX-CR for several years to provide both clinical and administrative staff with single sign-on access to an array of patient data – from test results to outpatient appointments to consultant letters. Bedfordshire records over 23,000 patient searches each month in IMX-CR and, as Josh Chandler, Associate Director of IT at Bedford, explains, IMX-CR was instrumental in supporting clinicians when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in two key areas.
The initial challenge faced by the trust was to scale up to support the demand for respiratory consultants. Within a couple of days, the trust had created a 24×7 on call rota for all respiratory consultants and doctors to provide round the clock diagnostic support for those treating Covid patients. The respiratory team needed rapid access to patient information, both on and off site, to enable rapid assessment and diagnosis and support the hugely challenging workload.
He confirms, “Using IMX-CR, we were able to immediately provide the entire respiratory team with secure single sign-on access to key patient information as well as all test results, enabling clinicians to work effectively either within the hospital or from home, as required.”
Single patient history eliminates paper and reduces movement
In addition, in response to staffing difficulties and infection control procedures, the decision was taken to limit the volume of paper moving around the Trust and some clinics stopped requesting and receiving any patient paper records. For clinicians who had always relied on paper records, often several inches thick, to support patient consultations, this was a huge challenge – not least for those who were working in unfamiliar departments, with previously unknown patients, covering for staff who were either unwell or had been redeployed elsewhere.
“Clinicians needed to be able to get to know the patient within a few minutes – and IMX-CR provided a single source of information that enabled them to get an overall picture of a patient’s experience with the Trust very quickly,” says Josh. Within moments, IMX-CR provides an overview of the key elements within a patient’s history, from discharge summaries and correspondence to MDT outcomes.
Clinicians could check cardiology history, track blood results – including any outstanding, and see recent in- and out-patient visits and the relevant consultant. With immediate access to any letters generated by various systems, including discharge, the clinicians were able to achieve rapid insight into the patient history.
Feedback from the clinicians was extremely positive – with many confirming that, despite the extraordinary changes in working practice, there had been no degradation in the level of care they were able to provide.
Accelerating Digital Transformation: a better way of working
Furthermore, this enforced shift away from paper-based documentation has provided clinicians with new levels of confidence in IT. “The response we were able to provide with IMX-CR not only demonstrated a better way of working but also showed they can rely on IT,” Chandler says.
With the Trust now embarking on an Electronic Document & Records Management System (EDRMS) project to digitise all paper records, this cultural shift and confidence is key. As he says, “You don’t get many chances with clinicians if a system is inadequate or limits their ability to deliver care, they will not use it. The ability to provide immediate access to patient information using Viper has provided clinicians and consultants with the experience of a paper-free patient consultation and that has helped to transform behaviour and confidence in IT.”
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Josh Chandler is an experienced IT Director with a background in system integration. Driven by improving the care offered by clinicians he takes pride in providing the best tools and support possible to the organisation. His goals include creating an environment where clinicians and digital staff work hand in hand to unlock the possibilities that digital services offer to introduce efficiencies and innovations to the care that the NHS offers.