Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) has developed a bespoke mobile app allowing clinical staff to record patient observations electronically.

The app is linked to the hospital’s main electronic clinical system and allows staff to update patient records from a smartphone or tablet, reducing the need for handwritten notes.

In is now in use by health teams across 53 inpatient wards and has been used to capture some 3.7 million electronic observations since being introduced in December 2017, the trust said.

Dr James Reed, CCIO at BSMHFT, said: “Inpatient treatment cannot be effective if mental health professionals are tied-up with a cumbersome paper processes that are not effective and do not provide real time information that is vital in the effective planning of patient treatment and care.

“After identifying a process that would solve this problem, we set out to find an ‘off the shelf’ solution to this paper-based dilemma but unfortunately, none were readily available. So we have built our own, and the benefits so far have been incredible.”

As well as facilitating clinical note-taking, the app provides alerts that prompt nursing staff to carry out timed observations on patients.

Dr Reed said: “The electronic recording of observations has allowed staff to carry out essential clinical recording in a consistent and timely manner, providing additional reassurance to both staff and patients.”

The new Digital Ward mobile app being used at at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health trust

The app allows staff to update clinical records electronically

BSMHFT introduced the app as part of its ‘Digital Ward’ Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme.

It is now entering the second phase of implementation, which will see observations from inpatient wards transferred to the new system in an effort to replace the need for  manual updates to patients’ records.

John Short, CEO at BSMHFT, said: “With the digital therapeutic observations aspect of patient care now complete, we are working to develop this new technology further to help us work towards a truly ‘digital ward’ so that all of our inpatient areas are paperless making care safer, and more efficient freeing up valuable time for our nursing staff, and other mental health professionals, to spend time caring for our patients.”

BSMHFT is one of the largest mental health trusts in England, with some 4,000 staff spread across 40 sites catering for a population of 1.3million.

The trust was named as one of seven mental health digital exemplars by Simon Stevens in March 2017, as part of the ‘Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View’ programme.

Alex Chaplin, Director of NHS Digital’s GDE programme, said: “This is another example of a GDE trust transforming healthcare delivery through digital and providing national leadership for others to follow.”