Two trusts in the North and Midlands of England have signed deals with Nervecentre to roll out electronic observations software, using grants from NHS England’s technology fund.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has given all 4000 of its doctors and nurses mobile devices to record patient information as part of their deal, while County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is currently piloting the Nervecentre system.

All staff members at Nottingham will be able to use devices such as iPhones to instantly share patient information across 69 wards at its three hospitals.

The Nervecentre software allows staff to record patient observations on the mobile devices and share key clinical details used for handover.

The latest development completes a five-year project at Nottingham that began with the implementation of task management solution Hospital-at-Night, which allows escalations and job lists to be transferred via the system out-of-hours.

Since the start of the roll-out, over 700,000 electronic observations have been recorded by Nottingham staff and 7000 electronic observations are now being recorded every day, according to Nervecentre.

Dr Mark Simmonds, an acute and critical care consultant at Nottingham and the project’s clinical lead, said the “hugely ambitious” project has already improved communication between staff.

 “Beyond the obvious advantages of phone and text messaging, staff are now able to access a variety of medical apps including guidelines at the bedside.”

The programme was supported by the ‘Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Technology Fund’, commonly known as tech fund 1, for which Nottingham received £411,500 for patient observations.

Durham and Darlington has also funded its e-observations system work with tech fund money, after it received over £1.6 million to support patient flow.

The Nervecentre system is currently being piloted on both respiratory and orthopaedic wards across two acute hospitals in Durham and Darlington, with plans to roll out the system across all wards at three acute hospitals and five community hospitals by winter 2015.

Paul Latimer, lead nurse for the special projects team at County Durham and Darlington, told EHI News the trust wanted an electronic observation system to improve accountability and allow staff more time to be with deteriorating patients.

Latimer said the decision to go with Nervecentre was partly influenced by Durham and Darlington’s ability to own the software and make “modifications and tweaks” where necessary.

“We want this to be a system that is led by patients rather than the IT,” he said.

Key features of the electronic observations system include software to calculate Early Warning Scores based on patient information such as heart rate and blood pressure. By keeping track of these scores, hospital staff can then use their mobile device to alert other staff if urgent attention is needed.

While the project is still in its infancy, Latimer said that staff involved in the pilots have said they are saving time on recording observations in order to focus more on delivering patient care.

“This is a massive change in practice, but there has been good acceptance of using the mobile technology.”

Paul Volkaerts, Nervecentre's managing director, said the company is also working with Durham and Darlington to provide a bed management solution which the trust will integrate with its task management system to provide real time data.