ICU clinicians turn to mobile technology in fight against COVID-19

Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust uses video technology from Imprivata, Ascom and Attend Anywhere to enable virtual ward rounds and to link patients to loved ones

The Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust is using mobile video technology to carry out ward rounds and enable patients to communicate with their loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic

More than 40 intensive care clinicians at a Surrey hospital have been using mobile technology to safeguard staff and patients, maximise the use of limited personal protective equipment (PPE), and save time in the fight against coronavirus.

Staff at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust are using robust smartphones from Ascom that meet strict NHS hygiene guidelines to communicate and carry out ‘remote’ ward rounds in the 24-bed ICU, where at the early peak of the pandemic there were up to 18 coronavirus patients on ventilators at any one time.

The smartphones, enabled with single-sign-on (SSO) technology from Imprivata, and two-way video consultation technology from Attend Anywhere – enable a single doctor, linked remotely to colleagues, to do ward rounds.

The mobile technology is also helping relatives to safely stay in touch with their loved ones in hospital.

A senior doctor at the hospital praised the ‘fantastic’ integrated technology, which he says has cut by half the time spent on ward rounds, saved the ICU’s precious stocks of PPE, and has reassured anxious relatives.

A patient’s pyschosocial and emotional wellbeing via contact with family and friends plays a hugely-significant role in their recovery, especially for those in isolation

Consultant intensivist and anaesthetist, Justin Kirk-Bayley, said: “Usually we have four or five doctors on each ward round. That was becoming impractical with coronavirus patients and limited PPE supplies.

“Now, just one doctor goes into the quarantined sector of ICU and co-ordinates a ward round via video on the smartphone, which is projected onto a screen to the team in a meeting room.

“It is a lot slicker, more efficient, and safer. The technology is giving us back the time that we have lost to COVID-19.”

And Dr Kirk-Bayley said the ICU had already begun using the technology, introduced at the end of April, to talk to relatives.

“One patient who was awake and doing well was able to see and talk to her husband for nearly an hour,” he added.

“The technology worked fantastically well.

“Nurses will now be staying in touch with relatives day to day using video on the smartphones.”

Virtual visiting has made a tremendous difference to our patients and relatives and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive

Clinical nurse specialist, Claire Richardson, continues: “We have introduced virtual visiting on all 14 of our adult inpatient wards and in our departments and community hospitals.

“The system is ideal for this purpose.

“A member of staff takes the smartphone to the patient and can quickly and easily sign on to Attend Anywhere for them via SSO with one tap and no need for passwords.

“It is very easy to use and, after the visit the patient, relatives and staff are confident no data has been saved and the smartphone can be thoroughly cleaned to meet our infection control requirements.

“Virtual visiting has made a tremendous difference to our patients and relatives and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“A COVID-19-positive patient, who had not seen his wife for five weeks, was able to see and speak to her.

“And another patient whose condition was deteriorating had a virtual visit from his son, who told staff it was reassuring to see him so well looked after.

“The system has been particularly beneficial to our elderly patients who do not have their own devices to have visits with their loved ones and I’m confident it has helped in their recovery.”

The system has been particularly beneficial to our elderly patients who do not have their own devices to have visits with their loved ones and I’m confident it has helped in their recovery

IT infrastructure project manager, Andy Dargue, adds: “We were already looking at using the technology for ‘virtual’ consultations at the trust, but the COVID-19 outbreak hugely accelerated this.

“The Imprivata and Attend Anywhere technology was being successfully used in the outpatient clinics but, in response to the requirement from ICU, we brought in the Ascom devices to allow us to make use of the system in the department.

“We had the smartphones on site and tested in two weeks. It has been an incredible team effort between the trust and the three companies involved.

The Attend Anywhere technology does not retain patient-identifiable information, which means patients using it leave no digital footprint. And each time an individual consultation ends during a shift, the online waiting area is wiped.

Daniel Johnston, clinical workflow specialist at Imprivata, said: “A patient’s pyschosocial and emotional wellbeing via contact with family and friends plays a hugely-significant role in their recovery, especially for those in isolation.

“Imprivata’s Mobile Device Access not only enables the use of shared devices for safe and secure communication with loved ones; but also peer and senior medical support for clinical staff.

“With its fast, tap-in access, and ability to clear the device between uses, there is no inappropriate transfer of patient information. The process is as seamless as possible for clinicians, saving time and facilitating a better patient experience.”

Paul Lawrence, managing director of Ascom UK, adds: "We are proud that our mobile technology is helping frontline NHS clinicians adapt to new ways of working during this terrible pandemic.

"During this project our team worked closely with the trust to understand its needs and to roll out the technology speedily and safely.”

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