Paper patient charts will be replaced by iPod Touch devices when a new electronic observations system is introduced in Southampton hospitals next month.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust will start rolling out MetaVision SafeTrack in mid-November.

Southampton’s director of information management and technology Adrian Byrne told Digital Health News it will initially go-live on a couple of wards as a ‘proof-of-concept prototype’. This will inform the eventual roll-out to more than 1000 beds across the trust, which he hopes to have completed by the end of 2016.

This will be the first implementation of SafeTrack, from iMDsoft, in the NHS. 

Southampton received money from the Nursing Technology Fund for the implementation, which has also helped it buy the mobile devices. 

More than 3000 nurses and midwives will eventually use SafeTrack to enter patient vital signs on iPod Touches. It will automatically calculate ‘early warning scores’ with alerts and escalations if an intervention is needed. 

The trust still uses paper charts for nursing information including vital signs and has an objective to be paperless or ‘paperlite’ by 2020.

Byrne said that as it was already working with iMDsoft in the area of critical care, the use of MetaVision SafeTrack presented an opportunity to have all patient observations held in a single database.

Southampton is in the midst of implementing the MetaVision Patient Data Management System across its critical care units. This roll-out was supported with money from the Safer Hospitals Safer Wards: Technology Fund.

 “We wanted to explore the benefits of having continuity between different levels of acuity in the hospital so we wouldn’t have to transfer information through really complex interfaces as patients go through different acuity levels,” Byrne explained.

“It’s mostly about having data in one place so we can produce a consistent single chart for any patient in the hospital.”

Another driver was that iMDsoft offered a mobile solution, as well as the company’s experience in linking with medical devices, which he sees as ultimately leading to interfacing with wearable technologies.

“One of the benefits of using SafeTrack is that we already have the interfaces to our core EPR in terms of patient demographics and pathology results flowing in, so we can build on some of the integration we have already done,” explained Byrne.

He added that the trust has worked to create specific early warning scores for various hospital departments such as paediatrics and has put a lot of work into configuring the system to reflect these. 

Electronic nursing assessments for conditions such as sepsis, acute kidney infection and venous thromboembolism will also help identify possible patient deterioration. 

The new observation system will be launchable from within Southampton’s electronic patient record.