A northern trust is deploying 4000 infrared sensors to track the location of patients, staff, beds and valuable equipment throughout its hospitals.

The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will install the TeleTracking Technologies sensors in January next year.

The static sensors placed throughout the hospital will use infrared to register the movement of readable tags. The trust’s wifi network will send these reading to a “centralised care co-ordination centre”, where the data will be collated, displayed and relayed to relevant teams.

Rob Howorth, deputy director of health informatics at the trust, said the new tech would give the trust “global view of the hospital”, tracking the patient’s journey from “front door to back door”.

The sensors would manage bed occupancy and staff flows by creating a “virtual wall around the particular bed or location”. With staff and patients wearing readable tags, the sensors could then register who enters and leaves those spaces, he said.

Valuable assets such as bladder scanners and infusion devices will also be tagged and tracked using the technology.

Howorth said there was an “aggressive” deployment plan with the first module of the overall system to go live in mid to late February, and the rest throughout the year until October to November.

The benefits included using data to improve patient flow and intelligently allocating devices to wards, he said. 

In the trust's latest board papers, the business case for the patient and asset tracking system stated that the benefits would include monitoring hand hygiene, automation and real-time monitoring data.

Howorth said the system also included “sophisticated work management”, allowing the trust to automate routine tasks, such as discharge planning. 

TeleTracking will be deployed across both Countess of Chester sites; Countess of Chester Hospital and Ellesmere Port Hospital.

The trust currently uses a Meditech electronic patient record, and Howorth said these two systems would “co-exist”, with some patient information such as demographics being pulled through to TeleTracking.

The implementation is part of the Countess of Chester’s model hospital programme, based on the 2015 Lord Carter review.

Countess of Chester was selected as one of the trusts to be a proof of concept for Carter’s NHS model hospital scheme.

Tony Chambers, chief executive at the trust, described it as a “flagship” project in a statement that “will put a stop to nurses wasting valuable time searching for equipment, and limit duplication of efforts in clinical admission staff repeatedly chasing updates on patient status to understand bed availability”.

Julia Fishman, vice president of clinical strategy at TeleTracking Technologies, said the company was “delighted to be part of the framework supporting The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in their adoption of real-time tracking solutions”.

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust also uses some modules of TeleTracking, but Countess of Chester will be the first NHS trust to embark on the full suite, Holworth said.

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