Ian Cardy: Improving patient safety through digital transformation

Posted on Tue, 24/09/2019 by Ian Cardy

Blog Nervecentre Gateshead NHS

When I first became a nurse over 30 years ago we never used any computers or digital devices on the wards. In fact, when the ward I was working on first got a computer, it was just there unused, as nobody knew what to do with it! Of course nowadays, digital technology is an essential part of day to day care for frontline staff. However, if someone had told me back in the 1980s that in the future I would be part of a team delivering digital transformation across the Trust I wouldn’t have believed them.

After working at a number of hospitals in the region I joined Gateshead in 1999 as a Charge Nurse within the Anaesthetics and Recovery Team. I really enjoyed working within the team but I particularly enjoyed being able to drive forward patient care. As my role expanded, I became responsible for training new staff which led me to work closely with Teesside University in developing and delivering, anaesthetic and recovery modules. I very much enjoyed utilising my experience and developing and driving forward ideas.

Thus, in 2011 when the Trust wanted a clinical adviser to work with the team on bringing in a new electronic record system called Medway, I jumped at the chance. I was initially seconded as a clinical adviser for 18 months, to give a clinical opinion on any changes being proposed and to be the link between frontline staff and the development team. During this work, I realised I could make a greater difference to improve patient safety and care than I ever could as an individual nurse on a ward.

Following the Medway project my contract was extended and I started to work on a wider range of digital projects including the ‘GP Handover Form’, the first digital link between Secondary and Primary Care within this Trust. I also worked on the new Emergency Care Centre building, in a role that helped develop processes that supported patients, staff and matched the needs of the Trust. The building changed the whole way that we looked after emergency care patients and it is a model that has been copied by numerous Trusts since it opened in 2015.

One of the advantages of digital transformation is that it supports all Trust workers and not just those based within a hospital. For example the eMIS electronic patient record system has begun to be rolled out across the Children’s Community Nursing Team and East Locality

This is just the start of a much larger project which aims to digitally enable all community staff.One of the biggest projects I have worked on is Nervecentre, which is a, state-of the-art electronic observation and decision support software.

It has the potential to revolutionise the way we care for our patients. For example, Nervecentre will improve the way we look after deteriorating patients by standardising and automating the escalation pathway; which essentially means it will speed up the process of getting the right person at the right time with right information to the patient.  It will also reduce the admin burden on staff by reducing paperwork and avoiding duplication of tasks, thus freeing up clinician time so they have more time to care.The first phase of Nervecentre is due to launch at the end of November and it will make an immediate positive impact to patients and staff. But, this is just the beginning as Nervecentre has the potential to make huge differences to the way we deliver care. We need our clinicians to drive the development of each of phase to ensure we maximise its potential and have solutions bespoke for the needs of our patients.




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