Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust puts patients first with hi-tech electronic monitoring

Trust is first specialist orthopaedic hospital in UK to install VitalPAC system

Doctors and nurses at the Oswestry Orthopaedic Hospital are going hi-tech with an electronic monitoring system that makes care even safer and more efficient.

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has become the first specialist orthopaedic hospital in the country to install the ground-breaking VitalPAC system – using funding from the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund.

It is being used from the patient's admission to hospital and throughout their stay, replacing the paper observations chart at the end of each bed.

Rather than making a written note of information such as pulse, blood pressure and breathing rate, staff are now entering the data directly onto an iPod touch. VitalPAC then automatically produces an observation chart as well as calculating an Early Warning Score – a key indicator of whether a patient’s condition is deteriorating.

Nicki Bellinger the hospital’s deputy director of nursing, said: “Recording vital signs data regularly and accurately is central to providing safe, high-quality care.

“By making the process easier, VitalPAC is another way in which we are helping our staff give patients the best care possible.”

Up until now, nursing staff have used a paper form to document patient observations such as blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen level. They then manually calculate the patient’s Early Warning Score, an indication of how sick the patient is.

The first wards went paperless with the new system on 10 August and it will be rolled out across the whole hospital by the end of the month.

Deb Povall, ward manager on Powys Ward, said: “We’re finding that having VitalPAC makes it quicker and easier to take and record observations and to spot patients who might be getting sicker and who need extra attention.

“It’s very easy to use – staff have rapidly become familiar with the system and are already seeing the benefits.”

VitalPAC provides prompts for nursing staff to take observations when required for each patient, and automatically and accurately calculates the Early Warning Score. If it is higher than it should be then this can be quickly flagged to doctors or specialist staff.

Jayne Downey, director of nursing and service delivery, said: “VitalPAC is proving to be a very-useful tool in supporting staff to deliver high levels of care. Nurses are still taking manual readings as well, and while we welcome technology that improves the care we can offer, it will never replace the face-to-face contact that our patients value.”

Faster detection of deteriorating patients using this system has already led to big improvements in other hospitals – with one key example being a reduction in the length of time patients stay in hospital. This is known to aid better and faster recovery.

Nick Elliott, director of customer engagement at The Learning Clinic, which supplies the VitalPAC system, said: “The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is known around the world for its ground-breaking work so I am delighted they chose to install VitalPAC.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the trust to help them maximise the return they get on their investment, both in terms of improved patient care and efficiency.”