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State-of-the-art technology is helping Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) to deliver outstanding care by ensuring patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Thanks to a wall of  computer screens in the Care Co-ordination Centre (CCC) at Maidstone Hospital, a team of specialist staff can see in real time, how many beds are clean and ready for patients as well as those where people are being discharged, or in need of cleaning.

MTW is the fourth acute hospital trust in the country to set up a CCC which uses TeleTracking’s bed management system 24 hours a day seven days a week. Since going live in November last year, the Trust has already seen enormous benefits for both staff and patients:

  • The time a hospital bed is empty has more than halved from approximately 150 minutes to an average of 60 minutes.
  • The time it takes to get a patient from the Emergency Department into a bed is down from an hour and a half for both sites to approximately 27 mins for Maidstone Hospital and 36 mins for Tunbridge Wells Hospital. This means the number of hours patients are in ED has been reduced by 110 hours a day.
  • Time given back to nurses and ward staff to care for patients is more than 2,740 hours a month across both hospitals.
  • By discharging patients in real time using the digital patient wristband the Trust has gained 40 days’ worth of bed capacity earlier than it would do using traditional discharge methods.

To ensure patients are allocated a bed in the right area of clinical speciality, all patients on admission are given a digital patient wristband to wear during their stay which connects them to the system. When the patient is ready to go home the wristband is placed in a drop box on the ward which then automatically discharges them and sends a message to the Bed Turnaround Team, via a handheld mobile device, telling them that a bed needs cleaning and its location.

Made up of 10 members of staff located at each hospital site, the Bed Turnaround Team was created to ensure beds are available as soon as patients are discharged from MTW’s care. They clean the bed and the area around it and make sure the bed is ready for the next patient’s arrival. Once ready for use the team sends an update to the CCC which then allocates the bed to a patient. Depending on the department a message is either sent automatically, or a member of staff sends a message via the system, to the portering team to request a porter to move the patient.

Pedro Da Silva, Clinical Site Manager for MTW NHS Trust, said: “Bed management is, in effect, a constant monitoring of hospital admissions and discharges – also known as patient flow through the organisation, which is a key quality indicator for patient outcomes and experience. It’s about identifying available beds across all the wards, and then balancing the needs of patients being admitted with that availability to make sure each patient gets placed on the right ward so they can get the right care, ideally first time.

“Not only does this new way of working allow patient flow to be managed more effectively, it also means our clinical staff now have more time to care and spend with our patients as they no longer need to make beds or make numerous phone calls to domestics and porters and site teams. Ultimately, it is allowing our staff to what they really want do – care for our patients.”

Prior to TeleTracking the clinical site team would physically visit each ward to find out how many discharges there were going to be that day so they could to work out how many beds were available across all departments and specialities, before allocating beds to patients according to availability.

Pedro added: “It was basically all done on paper – from who’s going home and who might be a possible discharge, to knowing how many people were in ED. Now everything is done at the click of a button we have a true picture of the beds available at any given moment – it really has taken us to the next level in managing our patients more effectively and efficiently.”

TeleTracking has also been helping the Therapy Team manage their workload at both hospital sites.

Charlotte Buttery, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist for the Stroke Team at Maidstone Hospital, said: “We use the TeleTracking system on the unit on a daily basis. We use it to help structure our board rounds and pass on essential information to different disciplines.

“Because it’s a live tracking system we can see if all of our patients are in the correct bed spaces and we can update whether we are still seeing them or if they are ready to be discharged or transferred to other places to receive their care.

“We also use TeleTracking in our handovers in the morning which has helped to reduce the duplication of work. It also helps us to see if any of our patients have been moved off the ward and as a result that has helped to reduce the amount of time we spend trying to locate patients. Basically it is helping to save time, allowing the multi-disciplinary team to keep track of patients and making it a smoother process when planning to discharge patients or transfer their care to different destinations.”