East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is to go-live next week with the Learning Clinic’s VitalPAC, in a deal worth £500,000.

VitalPAC is a clinical system for monitoring and analysing patients’ vital signs.

It enables staff to automatically summon timely and appropriate help if patients deteriorate. East Kent is to use the system on Apple iPod Touch devices and iPads.

Steve Hams, deputy chief nurse and head of quality at the trust, said: “Implementing this system will improve patient safety and patient outcomes as we will become better at recognising deteriorating patients.

“The staff are excited about using the new technology. We will be able to observe patients’ vitals 40% quicker than we do at the moment.”

VitalPAC enables nurses to record seven routine observations, such as temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and removes the requirement for a paper chart.

The system’s software analyses the patient’s readings using a set of algorithms and doctors and other senior staff receive an urgent alert if they dip below a safe level.

All readings are automatically sent via a wireless LAN to a central network server. East Kent is also planning to integrate VitalPAC into its patient administration system, iSoft’s Patient Centre/Clinicom.

Hams said: “There will be cost reductions as we will manage our patients more efficiently, with fewer patients going into intensive care and less cardiac arrests.”

It is hoped the system will also deliver reduce length of stay by avoiding the complications that can arise in patients at risk of deterioration.

VitalPAC was originally developed at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust by the Learning Clinic and is now implemented in more than 20 trusts.

Dr Peter Greengross, medical director at the Learning Clinic, told eHealth Insider that research suggests that between 30,000 and 40,000 people die in hospital in England each year because they are not observed properly.

“VitalPAC encourages a better nurse-patient relationship through prompting the nurse to check the readings rather than just reading off monitors.

"This should create big reductions in mortality rates and an improvement in patient outcomes,” he said.

The latest applications in the system include bed management, with VitalPAC noting a patient’s journey through hospital and infection control.

East Kent hopes to implement these after an initial six-month implementation process is complete.

The system will first be deployed at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital. Barring any significant problems, a full roll-out will take place across the trust over the next six months.