Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has implemented a new digital solution for tracking patient referrals which has helped reduce waiting times for admission by 34%.

The trust’s electronic acute medical list was set-up to enable clinicians to track referrals and admissions to the acute medicine unit from multiple sources. Since it was introduced, there has been a 34% cut in waiting times for medical admissions and has contributed to a projected annual operational saving of more than £3million. The solution has also led to a 19% decrease in the length of hospital stay and improved patient safety.

The new system has also led to an increase in the number of patients who are seen within target – rising from 49% pre-implementation, to 74% after.

Dr Nithin Narayan, acute medicine unit consultant at the trust, was the one who spotted that the solution could be incorporated within the trust’s existing EPR – Allscripts Sunrise. According to Dr Narayan, the flexibility of the EPR meant that non-integrated systems, including pagers, verbal referrals and handwritten referral lists, could be replaced with a unified solution. The electronic patient list now details all patient information, including any outstanding clinical assessments, and charts the live location of patients wherever they are in the hospital.

As a result, staff are better able to manage their workloads, there are fewer interruptions to workflows and they can focus on patients without worrying about delays.

Dr Narayan said: “The data speaks for itself, but the qualitative benefits need to be emphasised too. We can now manage our workload without constant interruptions. We no longer need to regularly repeat clinical information and our pagers don’t go off as often. This means our workflows are less interrupted and clinicians spend less time worrying about delays in patient care.”

The system has proved so successful that it will also now be deployed to other teams trust-wide.

In a similar vein Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust halved its bed turnaround time thanks to a patient tracking solution. Success stories such as these two should help encourage more trusts to explore joined-up, digital solutions.

Dr Anna Bayes, medical director for Allscripts, added: “Bolton has really shown how sometimes the simplest applications of configuration make the biggest difference.

“Sunrise EPR gives clinicians the flexibility to create tools to optimise their workflows. Sharing these tools across teams will amplify the benefits. They have evidence that the time lag for crucial decision making has been reduced significantly – improving outcomes and freeing up beds faster, enhancing patient flow and speed to diagnosis for patients.”