It was recently suggested that better communication between staff and with patients could greatly improve the quality and appropriateness of patient care. This is inextricably linked to the NHS National Institute of Innovation and Improvement’s recent finding that nurses only spend 40% of their day on direct patient care, and that a nurse can be interrupted once every six minutes in a working shift.
Last year, Christine Beasley, Chief Nursing Officer and leader of the Productive Ward Programme, identified “unnecessary administrative tasks” as a major obstacle to caring for patients. A core deliverable to ‘releasing time to care’ is providing ‘patient information at a glance’ by integrating existing hospital systems to create a single view – in effect ‘an electronic whiteboard’ that streamlines communications. This results in the average nurse saving an hour per shift per day, achieved by a saving of up to 7-10 phone calls and 3-4 wasted logins to various information systems per day. An hour a day saving; now that’s ‘releasing time to care’!
One of the main obstacles to improvements in communication is a lack of centralised information regarding every patient and bed on the ward. As a result, bed managers are still walking the floors to gain a true understanding of the availability of beds. A manual whiteboard can only provide a limited amount of information, which is often out of date and is prone to being wiped away or smudged, nor does it fully address a patient’s confidentially.
By integrating systems the administrative burden is reduced. Clinical teams are all seeing the same information in real time, with a tool to facilitate handovers between shifts and a means to aid clear and consistent communication with patients.