The University Hospitals of Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is implementing a live bed management system to help staff transfer patients from Selly Oak Hospital to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which will open next week as the largest single-site hospital in the UK.

The system, which has been piloted on four wards at Selly Oak over the past three months, will show staff exactly which bed a patient is in, to make sure that all patients are in the correct place.

The system, which has been developed in house, will eventually enable staff to view ward layouts and information – such as how long a patient has been in hospital, whether they are waiting for test or a result and their dependency score – from any location, including their home. 

The core information is fed through the trust’s prescribing information and communications system (PICS), which has also been developed in house. It is also linked to other feeds, including the pharmacy system, so staff can see when to-take-out medicines are ready.

Daniel Ray, director of informatics and patient information, told E-Health Insider: “We have recently completed an audit against the paper version. The electronic bed management system was more up to date than the paper used by the bed manager walking around the wards.

“That’s because a ward round takes about an hour and a half, so by the time the manager has completed the first ward the situation in the first few beds has often changed. The electronic version updates every ten minutes, so that is not an issue.”

The IT team has developed the system alongside trust nurses to make sure it is user friendly and widely used. The trust will be going-live with the system in some wards as the 60% of patients are transferred from Selly Oak next week.

Ray added: “The system mirrors the McKesson HEV (Horizon Enterprise Visibility) model, but – as far as I know – nowhere else has trust-wide bed management that is fed by a clinical system.

“I manage the ward clerks, so on the day whole wards will be transferred on PICS. We’ll be able to use the system to say ‘the patient that was in B3 at the old hospital is now in bed 518 at the new hospital’ using the bed management tools, which will be hugely beneficial.”

The system will gradually be rolled out across the trust, with the final ward going live in neurosurgery in March 2012.

Opinion and analysis: Sarah Bruce visited the new hospital this week. Find out more in her feature in opinion and analysis.

Video diaries: Daniel Ray is an EHI Video Diarist.