North East London Foundation Trust is teaming up with The Access Group to deliver an integrated care platform that will bring together virtual wards, bed management and digitised transfer and discharge services to help improve bed management and the issue of delayed discharge.

The two organisations will work together to design and deliver the platform in a proof-of-concept pilot. The aim is to streamline patient flow, support virtual wards and manage patient discharge services efficiently, and put an end to bed blocking. It follows on from the news last month that Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust teamed up with The Access Group to implement the latter’s Access Patient Flow Manager software.

The virtual ward service at North East London FT will digitally monitor patient observations around the clock and will feed directly into the electronic patient record. This will support a more proactive, joined-up approach to care.

Umesh Gadhvi, chief digital information officer at North East London, said: “The trust has developed an ambitious digital strategy which has been designed with our patients, and our virtual wards digital pathway enables patient choice of care. The design allows patients to use digital options to access and receive their healthcare. Virtual wards (also known as hospital at home) is a key digital offering to allow patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital, therefore supporting hospital avoidance.”

In addition, through the digitisation of patient flow and discharge processes, clinicians will have a real-time overview of bed availability, as well as simplified forms to speed up referral, transfer and discharge services. With this process being digitised it will also enable North East London FT to audit the reasons for delayed discharge, allowing processes to be streamlined and identify areas for improvement.

The solution includes digitised oversight of all patients in the trust, with details including clinical priorities, allergies and referrals. It will be rolled out between NELFT, Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust and The London Borough of Waltham Forest. All three organisations will receive streamlined services and have access to information at the point of care.

Steve Wightman, healthcare director at Access HSC (Health Support and Care), said: “Virtual wards are an exciting opportunity across health and care that sees pressure taken off hospitals by freeing up bed space, and stress taken away from patients by returning them to familiar, comfortable surroundings. With our new platforms, we can support this transition from hospital to home, allowing a greater capacity for care in North East London.”