NHS Wales Informatics Service has awarded a £13m contract for the development of a national critical care information system.

Telecommunications company Ascom will develop and manage the system over a seven-year period.

The company’s Digistat clinical information system (CIS) will enable care staff across Wales’ 14 adult critical care units to electronically manage care.

Before the contract was signed just three of the units used electronic systems provides by other suppliers, with the remainder using paper.

The new system will give staff a single source for patient information.

Vaughan Gething, Wales minister for health and social services, said: “Our Welsh intensive care services deliver extraordinary services helping people when they are critically ill.

“The introduction of this innovative technology will enhance the care patients receive and allow doctors and nurses to spend as much time as possible caring for patients.

The use of technology to deliver a sustainable NHS is a key part of  A Healthier Wales, our long-term strategy for health and social care in Wales.”

Alongside interfacing with key elements of NHS Wales’ framework for information systems, the CIS was also required to integrate with other key national software, including the country’s hospital electronic prescribing and medication administration system.

Ascom is working with NHS Wales to standardise care pathways. Individual configurations will be then tailored as Digistat is implemented at each hospital.

The system will also integrate with systems from other suppliers. It will enable ICU staff to:

  • Record patient assessments electronically
  • Manage prescriptions and drug administration at the bedside
  • Connect with bedside equipment to record vital signs and fluid balance
  • Calculate a patient’s acuity scores
  • Better manage infection control
  • Manage daily care plans
  • Create reports on results and department objectives
  • Support national audit and research needs

Ascom UK managing director Paul Lawrence added: “Our partnership will move critical care units away from paper and on to a system that will make life easier for clinicians, freeing up thinking time in a highly pressurised environment, and provide a single source of truth for patient information.

“This will not only help improve patient care at the bedside, but benefit audit and research, to refine best practice and critical care structures in the future.

“Digistat’s architecture makes it uniquely suitable for Wales due to the flexibility of the software. It allows us to create a common layer interface while tailoring Digistat’s configuration to support local workflows and requirements in each unit.”

The contract will run for an initial period of seven years with an option to extend for a further three years.

Ascom UK will begin rolling out the technology to The Grange University Hospital in Newport from early 2021, followed by a phased roll-out to other units until 2023.