Ealing Hospital has gone live with a new offline information system that lets midwives keep track of patient data using a mobile tablet device.
The technology is developed by EuroKing Maternity Software Solutions and links with its existing E3 maternity information system, which operates in 40 NHS trusts.
It allows the 25 midwives based at Ealing, part of London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, to download patient casenotes at the beginning of a working day onto a tablet running Windows 8 Pro that they can then bring on their rounds.
The midwife can refer to and update the patient records during each visit, even if there is no internet connection, meaning rural areas with poor 3G/4G access can be served.
Once a midwife has completed his or her round of patient visits they can use an internet connection to update the central database with the information collected on the tablet.
Speaking to EHI News, Lesley Deacon, head of midwifery and assistant director of nursing at London North West Healthcare explained the design of the service was led by midwives who wanted “a whole pathway of care on a computer system”.
“This is clinically-led by people working on the floor, doing the job day-in, day-out. So it is owned by them,” she said. “The midwives sat down and designed the system and took PowerPoints to EuroKing explaining what they wanted.”
Ealing used £105,000 of investment from the Nursing Technology Fund to support the development of the project.
However, it is uncertain how long the new tablet system at Ealing as London North West Healthcare is debating whether to not to close the hospital’s maternity service later this year.
A decision on when the service will close will be made by the governing body of Ealing CCG on 18 March 2015.
A statement issued by the trust explains: “Whilst the maternity unit is currently safe, the challenge it faces increases the risk that the service will become unsustainable which would require an unplanned closure, which is neither fair nor reasonable for the women or staff.”
Deacon told EHI News: “We’ve known for while that this has been up for discussion and if we are forced to move part of that is whether we retain our system or use another CMiS. It would be a shame to lose our relationship with EuroKing. But it is out of our hands.”
EuroKing intends to develop the service further, including plans to adapt the system for iPads and other mobile devices.
A spokesperson told EHI News that there are plans for other maternity services to make use of the community offline solution: “Another site has purchased it and is about to deploy. Many of our sites are looking at the solution at present as they recognise the benefits of the technology.”
A recent EHI News report notes that maternity units have been slow to adopt new digital technologies, although this is gradually changing due in part to the introduction of the Nursing Technology Fund.
Of the 85 projects to win funding in the first round, 11 were for maternity projects, including mobile solutions such as tablets and digital pens.