King George Hospital staff hail new iPad system making patient care safer and more efficient
- Credit: Archant
Visitors to King George Hospital might have noticed something a little different about their care in the last few months.
Since July the Barley Lane hospital’s wards have been utilising a new iPad-based system, called Vitalpac, instead of paper charts to record and monitor patients’ wellbeing.
The software, which has been piloted by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust (BHRUT) at the Goodmayes hospital, sees nurses and doctors drastically save time by having all a patient’s notes stored on a handheld device such as an iPod or iPad.
And results have been so promising that from Monday, the Vitalpac system will be rolled out to BHRUT’s largest hospital, Queen’s in Romford.
Kate Norris, a healthcare assistant on King George’s Fern ward, told the Recorder: “It’s so much easier, it’s ridiculous to think we didn’t have it on the ward before.
“When we had the paper charts we had to go round each patient spending ages looking at their details. Now it’s all right there.”
The system was first suggested by James Avery, BHRUT’s deputy chief nurse, who quickly convinced the trust’s board to try out the innovative new scheme.
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At a cost of £1million over the course of three years, it is hoped Vitalpac will make life on the ward’s easier and safer – allowing health workers to spend more time looking after their patients instead of tracking down and filing paperwork.
When Vitalpac was introduced at North Hampton General Hospital in 2014, their patient observation errors reduced by 300pc.
James told the Recorder: “It’s possibly the best system in terms of usability to have available on the ward.
“For Apple users, using it is really simple and quick to pick up.
“All it is is a different and better way to tell when patients are deteriorating.”
All the wards at King George Hospital were provided with Vitalpac iPads three weeks in advance, to ensure all staff had sufficient training, and despite some of the more technophobic nurses originally expressing some fears, everyone has gotten onboard remarkably quickly.
Clementina Martins, BHRUT’s head matron for care for the elderly, said: “There were anxieties, but I’m absolutely amazed by how it’s been embraced, they’ve just run with it.”
And Karen Peters, the trust’s Bed and Site team lead, added: “Everyone has been fantastically supportive – because it’s simpler.”
Staff have also been impressed by how the new system will help them care even more effectively for their patients.
For example, before Vitalpac, nurses would have to carry out hourly rounds checking on the ward, which holds 30 beds. For each patient, they would need to fill out and file a complex set of paperwork dealing with everything from their heart rate to their oxygen levels.
Now the same checks can all be done and filed in a quarter of the time.
A key concern for some at BHRUT was that some less tech-savvy patients might think their doctors and nurses were simply on their phones instead of paying full attention.
But so far this has not seemed to be an issue.
Vitalpac will also make allocating patients to beds even easier, with a grading system that prioritises those in need of more in-depth treatment.
A consequence of this is that it will also help staff discharge patients whose recovery is complete.
It also acts as an early warning system, by providing signposts when patients might be nearing a point of no return.
According to Vitalpac’s website, when it was introduced in Croydon heart attacks fell by 70pc, and when it came to Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital, outbreaks of the norovirus were cut by a staggering 95pc.
And for James, the fact staff across the trust have been so happy to have the new technology introduced is testament to how much safer it will make BHRUT’s hospitals, introducing a more preventative healthcare method with quicker and more effective results.
He added: “It’s proof that there has been a real change in the culture of our hospitals.
“A few years ago if we tried to introduce this people might not have supported it, but now we all know we just want to make life easier and safer for our patients.”