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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust switches on RealTime

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust switches on RealTime

Posted on Tuesday 13th December 2011

The Atrium Cumberland Infirmary

A new award-winning IT programme that will fully co-ordinate and manage a patient’s journey through hospital is being rolled out at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust went live with RealTime in West Cumberland Hospital at the beginning of October 2011, and is now rolling the system out across the Trust.

RealTime is a key component of the Trust’s “ForWard” improvement programme — a clinically driven programme of performance improvement that is reengineering the processes for managing patient journeys on the wards of the Trust. The programme aims to streamline a patient’s journey when they come to hospital, reduce the length of time they need to be in care, improve the discharge planning process, and release more clinical time for patient care.

The ForWard project team are working closely with clinicians, nursing staff and other hospital teams to introduce new ways of working, such as improving the assessment process and setting targets for length of stay. The combination of technology and process reduces length of stay by enabling all aspects of discharge planning to be clinically driven and collaboratively managed across all the services and agencies that are involved in delivering that care. This means that everyone is working together towards the patient’s discharge.

RealTime also integrates with existing systems such as the Trust’s Patient Administration System so that it can track, monitor and drive in real time, and in one place, all the information that healthcare professionals need to manage patient journeys. This information is clearly presented on screens and dashboards that display, at a glance, each patient’s current status in terms of their care pathway and planned discharge, and is available to users 24 hours a day right across the Trust.

The benefits that are immediately available through switching on RealTime are numerous. Streamlining inpatient assessments, for example, reduces risk; tracking CQC and local targets in a live environment means that any issues can be identified and addressed quickly; alerts such as the risk of falls score or infection status are immediately visible; data quality and timely data entry have been transformed; patient information can be shared more easily between staff, e.g. at ward handovers and clinicians’ ward rounds.

RealTime was switched on first in the Patterdale and Pillar wards in West Cumberland Hospital, which are acute surgical and acute medical wards and are key to the start of so many patients’ journeys through the hospital. The ForWard programme is moving to a full roll-out Trust-wide from 5 December 2011, completing the go-live in Whitehaven before moving on to the Cumberland Infirmary.

Feedback from staff about RealTime has been enthusiastic.

“RealTime is speeding up the process of inpatient assessments and handovers and ensuring this happens much earlier in the patient’s journey,” says Lesley Carruthers, Deputy Director of Nursing.

“It’s been great, and I take my hat off to the nurses and medics, the trainers, the Informatics team, and everybody else involved in the rollout. This is a very ambitious change management project and everybody has done such an amazing job.

“Nursing staff have switched from paper to electronic assessments and will extend their use of the system through nursing observations and acuity scores, which is going to release significant time to care.”

Mark Thomas, Director of IM&T, said: “RealTime is helping us to focus on the real work of looking after patients and we are delighted to be leading the way in the North West by rolling out RealTime in Whitehaven and Carlisle.

“The system is flexible, easy to use, and well liked by the staff on the wards, and the eLearning and classroom programmes that our training experts have created will make it easy to learn.

“We are in an intensive programme of transformation here in North Cumbria and RealTime’s role in the ForWard project is key to its success. RealTime helps us to collaborate on patients’ journeys across numerous levels, services and agencies, ensuring clinical best practice leading to reduced length of stay and numerous other benefits. RealTime has rapidly won hearts and minds across the board and is exciting a lot of interest, both inside and outside the Trust.”

Jim Gabriel, CEO of RealTime, added: “We are delighted to be working with such forward-looking healthcare professionals. This is exactly what RealTime was designed to facilitate, and the RealTime-driven rapid reduction in the average length of stay will lead fairly rapidly to impressive benefits realisation. North Cumbria University Hospitals can look forward to freeing up so many resources through improvements to the delivery of care that the savings will be counted in millions.”