'Digital ward' to cut hospital stays

Wardview system
Image caption Touchscreen monitors are used to display a virtual map of the hospital ward's beds and patients

A new digital system to track patients in hospitals is to be rolled out across Scotland.

The Wardview programme was pioneered in the Borders and aims to cut the amount of time patients spend in hospital.

The system displays a virtual map of the hospital ward on large touchscreen monitors.

Details can be accessed by touching each patient icon and free beds can be marked and allocated more efficiently, senior medical staff say.

The designers believe this means staff can act quickly to treat or transfer a patient, easing pressure on accident and emergency departments.

'Get back home'

The Scottish government said initial results from a trial in the NHS Borders area indicated that the "digital ward" had the potential to reduce patients' average length of stay in hospital.

It is being piloted as part of a three-year plan to transform emergency care services for patients across Scotland.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said the new system was part of the Scottish government's plan to make sure these services are fit for the future.

He said: "We can't see A&E departments in isolation - we have to look at how patients move through the whole hospital.

"This secure new technology will improve how quickly people are treated in our hospitals and how quickly we can get them back at home. I want all boards to have an electronic system in place.

"The system gives full visibility of what is happening across hospital and cuts down on phone calls, and assists with the flow of patients in the hospital, reducing delays."

Dr Hamish McRitchie of Borders General Hospital said: "As associate medical director, I know that from the medical assessment unit we can see what is going on in the whole hospital.

"The board round that takes place in the medical assessment unit means every patient in that ward is reviewed by every member of the multi-disciplinary team, every day.

"Our system helps to prevent patients staying in hospital longer than they need to and makes sure that our beds are used effectively.

"We don't want anyone to be in the wrong ward or in hospital longer than they need to be - and neither do our patients."

Over the last five years, hospitals have seen an increase of nearly 7% in A&E attendances. This increase is expected to continue due to an ageing population.

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