Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust is set to roll-out digital pens to more than 130 staff across its community midwifery department.

The trust believes it was the first in the country to pilot the digital pens, which have been developed by digital pen providers Anoto and PaperIQ together with BlackBerry.

It will now roll-out the system over the next two weeks. Midwives will be able to visit mums-to-be in the community and digitally record information. The data will then be sent back to the trust using a BlackBerry device.

Richard Sargent, ICT change control specialist at the trust, said that the pilot was purposely trialled on six midwives who “did not like technology”.

Even so, it found that it only took 30 minutes to train them on the BlackBerry and 90 minutes on the pen.

Speaking at the SmartHealthcare.com mobile and wireless healthcare event in Birmingham last week, Sargent said: “As part of the four week pilot we adopted the IT solution for midwives and not the other way round.

“We believe that we can free up almost half the time that midwives spend on administration, duplication of data and travel giving them more time to care by using this system.”

In addition to making time and cost savings, the solution provides a safety device for lone workers.

Staff can use the digital pen to strike through the trust’s name at the top of the paper if there is a problem.

By doing so, the BlackBerry device is switched onto record mode and trust managers or the police can listen in on the conversation before deciding how to act.

The device also reduces the need to carry patient information that could be lost or stolen, particularly if it was on a laptop.

“The solution has also prevented midwives carrying patient identifiable information. In the last year or so we lost two books with such information and had to pay out £105,000 in litigation costs,” Sargent added.

Following the wider roll-out to the midwifery department, the trust will roll-out the pens to the hospitals emergency department within the next couple of months.

Links: PaperIQ