Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has implemented a cutting-edge Patient Flow system with digital whiteboards in every inpatient ward. The solution has been designed to help staff better manage patient journeys across the Trust by providing a real-time overview of capacity and needs in one consolidated view, at both the ward and Trust levels.
The primary goal of the solution is to help improve clinical outcomes, reduce length of stay, and produce cost savings.
Developed in collaboration with System C, the Patient Flow system is a key component of the company’s CareFlow integrated EPR (Electronic Patient Record). With real-time feeds from the Trust’s CareFlow PAS and clinical systems, the new solution enables staff to manage patient journeys better.
In consultation with staff, Sheffield Children’s has meticulously configured a comprehensive whiteboard layout to provide a consistent view across all inpatient wards. The board contains information such as infection control status, red to green status, expected discharge dates, and various information to aid clinical decision support, including respiratory support and IVs.
Julia Antcliffe, Lead Nurse for Digital Technology at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’ve had lots of positive feedback since the rollout of the Patient Flow system and digital whiteboards. A common theme among the feedback has been how intuitive the system is from a user’s perspective.”
Sheffield Children’s is one of only three dedicated children’s hospital trusts in the UK, and the implementation was completed during the winter pressure period. Despite admissions through the Emergency Department being the busiest they have ever been at the beginning of the two-month rollout, the senior staff members agreed to proceed with the implementation, given that the benefits outweighed the challenges.
The implementation team was very careful about the decision, as they didn’t want to add further pressure on staff but recognised that the system would have long-term benefits and would support them through the busy winter periods.
Julia Antcliffe explained how staff responded to the digital change during the unprecedented busy period: “Staff were amazing at taking on the change while managing winter pressures. The implementation team needed to match their support and enthusiasm, so we increased the team’s hours to cover 7 am to 10 pm for the majority of wards and 7 am to midnight for the Acute Admissions Unit to ensure colleagues were fully supported and didn’t defer to other members of staff, which would have added more pressure to an already difficult situation.”
Another key factor that contributed to the successful digital transformation was early engagement with clinical leaders. This included consultation to analyse current processes to ensure that the new system was a good representation of the information that needed to be displayed on the digital whiteboard and concluded with an off-site presentation demonstrating the capabilities of the system to gain the buy-in of the clinical staff at all levels.
Working with System C to create a live and dynamic environment to manage support and resolutions pre- and post-go-live was also vital. This approach helped maintain high adoption rates across the wards.
The benefits of the new system have been far-reaching. For instance, it has eliminated time-consuming calls between wards and the catering team to collect special feed requests, such as specific milk quantities and food allergies. Instead, the new streamlined digital process involves staff updating the whiteboard by 7 am. A report is generated by the special feeds kitchen and checked by the dieticians shortly after, in time for the kitchen to meet their delivery deadlines. The previous manual process was challenging to manage at the start of the morning shift because ward staff would have to gather all the special feed information from their colleagues, which would often result in delays.
Implementing the Patient Flow system and digital whiteboards is the latest milestone in a major transformation programme to digitise wards across the Trust using System C’s integrated CareFlow EPR. Progress to date has included integrating admissions, clinical handovers, electronic observations, clinical noting, alerts and team communications.
Guy Lucchi, Managing Director of Healthcare at System C, said, “Sheffield Children’s has made remarkable progress towards digitisation and the introduction of Patient Flow, and the digital whiteboards will be a valuable addition to the hospital’s capabilities to manage increasing demand. The system provides up-to-date visibility of exactly what is happening at the Trust at any given time so management teams can see capacity, identify challenges and act accordingly.”