Patient data is one of the NHS’ most valuable assets, but the collection and dissemination of the insight it can offer takes an incredible amount of resource and time.
According to the Royal College of Nursing an estimated 2.5 million hours are spent every week by nurses completing paperwork.
Recording patient and health data is of course vital, both for the provision of immediate care and for longer term population health. But, when the NHS is already overburdened and nursing time is at a premium, technology is increasingly being turned to for support.
And interestingly, the technology that could play a big part in streamlining how patient data is captured in a hospital is something most of us already have in our home.
Ambient intelligence in its simplest form is technology that is sensitive to the presence of people. Through sensors, it can track movement, and with voice recognition, it can record data and respond to enquiries.
In our homes, when we ask Alexa to switch on our lights, remind us about an upcoming dental appointment or place an online order, we’re tapping into ambient intelligence.
But rather than providing just a convenience at home, this same technology is set to transform hospital wards.
Imagine the time that could be saved if nurses didn’t have to return to their station to manually record patient information. But instead, they could vocally feed the data into smart speakers as observations were being taken in a single occupancy room. Or that when a clinician spoke to a patient, the discussion could be documented online in near real time.
Not only can this data save time, but the full recording of the interaction can provide insight into a patient record without adding any administration or taking time away from the provision of care. The nurse or clinician would simply verify it before it is automatically uploaded into a patient’s care record and into workflow management systems.
Smart environments in fast paced healthcare environments such as ICU or A&E could provide clinicians and nurses with those all-important, life-changing minutes.
What’s more, it’s technology that could also help transform the patient experience too.
As hospitals increasingly move away from large, nightingale-style wards to single-occupancy rooms, patients are gaining more privacy, but losing social interaction and stimulus.
For patients that are rehabilitating especially, being bed bound can be quite boring and isolating.
As a former critical care nurse, it’s one thing to manage the health of a patient, it’s quite another to keep their morale up when they feel low or lonely.