Heatherwood and Wexham Case Study

The Paediatric and Neonatal Unit at Wexham Park Hospital was the first in the country to install and use an innovative visual management system, which gives staff more time to spend with patients.
Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Deploy Visual Management System

Paediatric and Neonatal Unit trust was the first in the country to use innovative visual management system.

The Paediatric and Neonatal Unit at Wexham Park Hospital was the first in the country to install and use an innovative visual management system, which gives staff more time to spend with patients.

The new technology uses specially designed software with interactive whiteboards and touch enabled displays to enable staff to create and maintain patient status information. The boards support enhanced ways of working, cutting down on interruptions and the time nurses need to spend updating patient status information.

Pippa Parnell the then Ward Matron and now Acting Neo-Natal Manager explained: "We are always keen to introduce new ways of working to provide an even better service to our patients. The 'NHS Institution for Innovation and Improvement Productive Ward Framework – Releasing Time to Care - gave us the ideal opportunity to investigate other ways for communicating information that needs to be frequently updated. We have historically always had a dry whiteboard to show patient status. This soon proved to be inadequate, and could be time consuming so we came up with the idea of installing a magnetic board with symbols to correspond with the patient's status but this too had major drawbacks. Neither solution accurately reflected the layout of the ward so we were still getting a lot of interruptions in our daily work which meant we still had less time to spend with our patients. It was during a visit to my daughter's school that I saw how they were using the touch technology of the interactive whiteboard and realised this would be a perfect solution."

Pippa went back to work and shared the idea with her team, and following further research they found the perfect product; an interactive whiteboard with software that allowed staff to create and maintain patient status information in a way that was simple, visual, and that fitted with the normal flow of work. The system provides a visual representation of the actual layout of the ward and by using the simple drag and drop function staff can easily update the board to show the latest information.

The boards were installed in the Paediatric and Neonatal Units of the hospital, funded by donations from parents of past patients. They immediately proved to be a great hit with all staff.

Kay Carr, Acting Ward Manager commented, "The new boards are so easy to use have greatly improved communications between our multi-disciplinary teams. The boards are linked to the hospital's internal network and with just a couple of clicks clinicians and other healthcare workers can access all the information they need directly from their PC. They no longer need to telephone for an update before visiting the ward and this has greatly reduced the amount of interruptions we experience."

Since the boards were installed staff have monitored how much time it has actually saved them.

Before the installation they had on average eight interruptions in an hour over a typical eight hour shift. The interruptions covered all types of requests, e.g.: what bed is the patient in on the ward?; have diagnostic tests been carried out?; when will they be ready for theatre? Since the new system has been up and running interruptions are now down to one per hour over a typical eight hour shift.

Kay commented, "Cutting down interruptions has saved nursing staff up to 20 minutes an hour, which is fantastic and means we have that time to spend providing better care to our patients."

The new system not only provides staff with more time to care for the patients, but also through the provision of data helps staff to better understand the demands on the service.

Ros Rushworth, Clinical Services Manager says, "The new system is able to generate a number of reports and through analysing this data the team are better able to understand the demand and further improve the service we offer. We can now extract historical information on why some patients may have experienced a delayed discharge and this type of information is invaluable in helping us to get to the root causes of why these delays occur. Any efficiency we can gain on administration enables us to spend time on what really matters – spending more quality time with our patients. The nursing staff on the Paediatric Unit are so enthusiastic about the new system. They say it does everything they wanted and more and are not sure how they ever managed without it !"