Being early to solve big problems
At the very start of the pandemic, our team attended a small conference in Scotland. At that time, understanding of the COVID-19 virus was still emerging and there were lots of questions being asked by many different healthcare professionals. As a provider operating in the acute setting, where the disease was causing the most trouble, and with patient deterioration very much our speciality, we found that lots of questions were being directed at us about what we could do to help our customers.
Our commitment to customers at Alcidion is capturing data safely and effectively and then making this available to any clinicians that need to know about it to provide safe care. From conversations with various respiratory clinicians and nurses who visited our stand, we identified some clear indicators and data points that would be useful for them to know; signs and symptoms that are now well known such as high temperature, persistent cough and recent travel to hotspots such as China, Italy and Spain.
These early insights from the clinical community and conversations with customers, combined with the highly configurable nature of our Patientrack solution, allowed me to build a risk-screening assessment that could capture data in various categories including COVID-19 symptoms, exposure to other cases and requirements for isolation and personal protection equipment (PPE). It also enabled me to understand how nurses could use this as they move around the ward by displaying information on a mobile device; nurses moving between patients are much better placed to maintain social distancing with mobile devices and thorough cleaning of is simpler with smaller hand-held devices than workstations on wheels.
Being empathetic to their needs
As the pandemic evolves, our Patientrack coronavirus assessment tool is being used in different ways. We have customers using this assessment as an on-demand feature for any patients who are suspected of having COVID-19. We also have sites who schedule this assessment to be completed for all patients on specific respiratory wards to ensure those patients are screened and no cases are missed. Customers can begin isolation procedures earlier so any spread of the disease by newly admitted patients is minimised.
We even have a site using this form in their Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to ensure coronavirus information is captured before patients are moved to inpatient wards. We have a COVID-19 flag that can be applied to the patient’s record if positive or suspected positive. Displaying this information prominently to all nurses on the ward is critical to ensure safe care procedures are observed when necessary.
The safety of patients is a known priority in the NHS, but we also need to ensure the health and safety of all healthcare professionals. Nurses put themselves in danger every time they come on shift to care for patients, so giving them extra information on where the potential risks lies can help to add a layer of protection. Nurses have told us that they feel safer using our coronavirus assessment as it enables them to be more prepared in their approach, such as using more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or extra sanitation before and after providing patient care.
Helping them achieve their heroic potential
We are constantly looking at how we can help customers better identify sick patients, react to deterioration sooner and provide required care while protecting themselves in the process. Since the creation of that first assessment, our sites have gone on to create new Early Warning Score (EWS) regimes that are tailored specifically to COVID treatment, which has identified deterioration sooner and consequently, movement to ICU earlier. The assessment has evolved into a more detailed data capture and has become two separate assessments based on different needs in the UK and New Zealand.
Despite this challenging time, it has reminded me that – as cliché as it sounds – we are all in this together and we are all committed to the health and safety of our colleagues, nurses and patients. Everything we do at Alcidion is designed to make life easier for customers to enable them to provide safer and more effective care. Giving nurses and doctors the power to provide a safe environment during a pandemic whilst protecting themselves in the process is absolutely a part of that.
It is an honour to be able to play a part in helping nurses perform to their heroic potential. I am often taken by how much time and effort from nurses goes into IT implementations at our customer sites. Many of these nurses have been pulled back to ward duty to provide extra resources to manage COVID-19 and as such have been unable to focus fully on decision making, testing, training and everything else required of them to implement new systems effectively. However, at all our sites, we have seen a rallying of the rest of the implementation teams to provide cover for the nurses and midwives who have to be elsewhere.
The support they are affording each other during this time is extremely inspiring and I am again reminded that the nurses we work with are committed to the health and safety of their patients; above and beyond any credit they are ever given. I am blessed to work with such incredible people!
David Proctor is a Senior Implementation Consultant at Alcidion