UK’s first ‘paperless’ hospital improves clinical safety and cuts nurses’ admin

Chase Farm Hospital (CFH) in London – the UK’s first new-build ‘paperless’ hospital – has improved clinical safety and dramatically reduced admin, releasing more time for patient care, thanks to joined-up technology from Ascom UK

July 11, 2019

The hospital, which is part of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, opened last September. It has a range of interoperable technology built in from the ground up in its surgical ward with 50 beds, 42 of which are ensuite single patient rooms, eight theatres, day surgery, endoscopy, clinics and urgent care centre across five floors. The global Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recently assessed CFH as having achieved stage 6 in the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM), one of just three hospitals in the UK to reach this level of ‘paperless’ maturity. The model has just eight stages from 0-7.

Central to the new hospital’s success is a sophisticated nurse call system, co-designed by nurses with Ascom, and integrated with the company’s Myco smartphones, to connect them to patients, colleagues and other technology across the hospital.

Clinicians are already realising key benefits:

  • Virtual safety huddles – wards saving up to 45 minutes a day by doing them ‘virtually’, in 30 seconds, via group texting on smartphones. Shared information is recorded for use at any time. 
  • Nurses saving up to 30 minutes a day each on audits, previously done manually, but now digitally via the Perfect Ward smartphone app. Nurses can view and send audits at the touch of a button.
  • Theatre recovery throughput – saving up to 15 minutes per patient (average 30 procedures a day) in moving through recovery and back to the wards by more efficient and effective communications.
  • Bed turnaround time – up to 40 minutes per bed saved using domestic clinical workflow button, which ensures staff arrive more quickly.
  • Patients are more ‘visible’ to staff via speech software and monitoring of integrated medical devices from anywhere in the hospital.

Leading the project was CFH chief executive and director of nursing, Natalie Forrest. She said: “Crucially, the technology development work was done by clinicians instead of to clinicians. It meant we had genuine engagement with nurses and other stakeholders as we carefully planned the hospital from the start – taking in the views of estates, IT, domestic staff, porters, admin, allied health and medical staff.

“With 42 single rooms we faced the challenge of making the ‘invisible’ patient visible and addressing our nurses’ key concern: that they might miss a serious clinical issue while attending to other tasks away from the patient. The nurse call system linked to smartphones ensures they can contact anyone including patients directly and know what’s going on in their clinical area, even when they are elsewhere.”

She added: “The hospital was delivered on target and within budget – a tremendous achievement of which the entire team is very proud.”

Ascom UK ensured its nurse call system was fully interoperable with technology from other suppliers at CFH, including GE Healthcare, Philips Healthcare, Cerner and various app providers.

Managing Director Paul Lawrence said: “We are very proud to have worked closely with clinical staff at Chase Farm Hospital on this project, which is an exemplar for the rest of the NHS. It has proved that the greatest success in IT comes from asking clinicians what they need to do their job better, and then ensuring you do whatever it takes to fully integrate it across the workplace.”

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