North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, in collaboration with InterSystems, has implemented a digitalised ward admissions process that focuses on empowering nurses to prioritise patient care over paperwork, marking a significant leap forward in healthcare efficiency. 

The new process represents an additional functionality to InterSystems’ TrakCare EPR. It ensures up-to-date patient records, minimising the risk of errors associated with manual data entry, and ensuring patient information is reliable and readily accessible to the care team. 

Prior to its digitalisation, NHT’s admissions involved 50-page paper documents, consuming valuable nursing time. The documentation journey extended throughout the patient’s stay, requiring continuous updates and reviews by the nursing staff.

This painstaking process often led to challenges in accessing patient information promptly and efficiently. In total, NTH estimates that it was using an average of 33,616 of these documents a year across its 18 in-patient wards (over the period 2018-2021).  

Recognising the need for change, NHT’s clinical and digital teams collaborated to implement a seamless digital workflow that includes three key benefits. It provides nurses with real-time patient records at their fingertips, available digitally from any location in the hospital, eliminating the delays associated with manual retrieval, and enhancing patient safety and care quality.

It also reduces error by minimising manual data entry and enhances accessibility for the care team, allowing for informed decision-making and smoother coordination of care. 

With the nursing teams support, the trust’s digital team ran in-depth training sessions for users. Training a total of 674 nurses and healthcare assistants (HCAs), 80% of the overall workforce in preparation for the project go live. Agency nurses and some social workers were also included in the training to optimise data utilisation. 

“From a ward leader’s perspective it was really great; we were invited and included to contribute throughout the project lifecycle,” said Emma Watson, matron at NTH. “The team continuously made changes based on our feedback. It was nice as we are the users and the people on the shop floor using the document.“ 

Marie Collingwood-Graham, digital programme senior project manager, NTH, added: “Having the nursing team train alongside the digital programme team was invaluable. The digital programme team in the past have been able to deliver training from an IT perspective.

“We can show you how to use the system and what boxes to select and buttons to tick but having the clinical input gives the clinical perspective. It has been a fantastic lesson learnt from the project and will be built into future projects delivered by the digital programme team.” 

As the project advances, North Tees and Hartlepool plans to extend similar digitisation efforts to other areas of healthcare delivery, including the intensive care unit, outpatients, stroke pathways, and more.

Earlier in the year, it was reported that following the successful trial of the MyHealthCall patient engagement portal, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is expanding the number of outpatient services that are available for management by patients using the NHS app.