A “major project” is underway at Royal Bolton Hospital to replace traditional pagers with smartphones linked to its electronic observations system.

The hospital, part of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, will distribute more than 300 Myco smart devices to clinicians across its paediatric, maternity and critical care wards over the coming months.

Manufactured by healthcare ICT provider Ascom, the devices will be linked with the hospital’s Patientrack electronic observations system and will send alerts and crucial information to clinicians when a patient’s health deteriorates.

The devices give off different audio alerts and display a “traffic lights” system to indicate the severity of a patient’s condition, meaning clinicians can prioritise them accordingly.

Dr Simon Irving, CCIO of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said he hoped the smartphones would eventually “completely replace” traditional pagers – known as ‘bleeps’ – which he explained were “no longer suitable for a modern NHS”.

Dr Irving said: “Unlike a bleep, the Myco enables clinicians to call each other, message securely, and interact with escalations from Patientrack. The devices will also have apps containing trust clinical guidelines and an evidence-based medicines portal, to ensure consistent, safe care.

“The devices will save doctors, critical care nurses and charge nurses a great deal of time that they currently spend trying to reach each other on the phone to assess cases. A full audit trail from the devices will also enable us to track peaks of activity and better utilise our workforce, as well as measuring performance.”

At present, 30 handheld Myco devices are being used by on-call doctors and night nurse practitioners to triage emergencies across the hospital’s medical, surgical and orthopedics wards. The aim is to help better care for seriously ill patients at night and over weekends.

The deployment is part a unified communications system in Bolton that encompasses the recently-launched shared care record for community staff, in addition to virtual desktops from Citrix and an Allscripts electronic patient record due to go live in Spring 2019.

The “ambitious project” to replace pagers also involves a three-year technical support contract for the Swiss firm Ascom.

Paul Lawrence, managing director for Ascom UK, said: “We are proud to go live with this important project with Bolton, which is fast earning its status as one of the most technologically ‘joined up’ NHS trusts in the UK.”