Building smarter places for care
Through the New Hospitals Programme we will see 40 new hospitals built in England by 2030. It’s understood to be the biggest hospital building programme in a generation.
The UK Government has said that through this programme it will; “implement cutting-edge digital technologies across the NHS”, creating smart hospitals that are different in design, built with new clinical processes, management systems and infrastructure.
In the development of these new hospitals, we can see some significant changes.
For example, space previously needed to house paper-based patient records are disappearing as the NHS continues to drive 90 per cent of trusts in England to have electronic patient records in place by December 2023.
And on a ward level there has been a move to single-occupant rooms to provide greater levels of privacy to patients. This alone presents clinicians with care challenges.
With single-occupant rooms both patients and clinicians can feel disconnected. Again, the evolved nurse call system is supporting the NHS overcome that challenge, with the technology having the ability to bring nurses closer to patients.
It can interact with all the medical devices connected to the patient – such as a ventilator or IV drip. Because of this connectivity, an alarm can be raised to alert the medical team via a handheld device, or through a smartphone iOS or Android App, if for example, a patient’s blood pressure suddenly spikes.
Where previously a nurse call system worked like an intercom between patient and clinician, now it’s about genuinely connecting the two and supporting in providing better patient outcomes.
And it’s not just changing how patients are cared for, the technology is also influencing how clinicians can work more effectively and manage their time.
Handheld devices that allow patient data to be accessed and updated while at the bedside are transforming how clinicians work. We call this ‘point of care data access’.
This is dramatically reducing administration time, which in turn enables more time to be dedicated to patient care. What’s more, there are no lost forms and no delay in clinical information being shared.
The same technology can also provide another supporting role to nurses - prompting them to complete tasks, such as dispensing medication or when a patient needs to be turned to prevent pressure sores. This takes the burden away from nurses and ensures patient care is mapped.
A constant care evolution
It’s exciting to think that generations to come will never know anything other than a digitally enabled healthcare system. That accessing virtual wards, using remote, wearable health tracking technology and having their health insights used to improve their own, and the population’s wellbeing, will simply be the norm.
It’s a pivotal time in the evolution of hospitals.