Releasing clinician’s time to patient care

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust is one of the trusts leading the way for the NHS in adopting smarter and more effective systems and practices, intended to improve operational efficiency and patient safety. The trust discusses how being a Scan4Safety site is helping it release clinical time to patient care

Since Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) began their Scan4Safety journey in January 2016, a transformation has been underway with the trust’s management of its inventory of medical consumables. RCHT is one of six trusts within the NHS in England, selected as one of the Department of Health’s Demonstrator Sites for the adoption of GS1 and PEPPOL. GS1 is best known for its identification standards, now delivering significant benefits across a range of systems and processes at RCHT.

The trust began with an inventory management programme, which reviewed and designed standardised layouts for all store rooms to improve the ability of staff to locate stock easily, no matter where they were in the hospital. These standardised layouts were developed with clinical input in order to facilitate easy selection of all products required for particular clinical procedures. The provision of new storage equipment created much more efficient storage areas and a one-off trust-wide ‘stock amnesty’ removed obsolete stock from the trust’s inventory, generating an immediate cash saving.

Efficiencies made through the Trust’s inventory management programme include: over-stocking in wards to the value of over £1 million; maintaining the recommended level of two weeks of stock on wards; simplified ward store rooms by reducing the number of unique items stocked in medical wards by an average of 22 per cent. In trauma wards, this was reduced even further, by up to 40 per cent; released clinical time to patient care by shifting responsibility for stock management to materials management teams; and reduced year-on-year ordering of medical consumables (for example, plasters and bandages) by 21 per cent for a medical ward.

Managing inventory
In parallel with the ward store reviews, the RCHT Scan4Safety programme rolled out GS1 standards to their patient ID bands, location identification and inventory catalogues. With these three core enablers in place, the trust embarked upon the next stage of inventory management improvements.

The recent go-live of a new inventory management system in Royal Cornwall Hospital’s (RCH) cardiac catheter laboratories, marked the next step of this transformation of how the trust manages inventory as part of the Scan4Safety Programme.

The new system being used in RCH cardiac catheter laboratories is supplied by Atticus and uses GS1 barcodes and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags to track what stock there is, what has been used and on what patient. This ensures everything is in date whilst making it easy to find what is needed for patient care at all times.

The benefits seen by RCH’s cardiac catheter laboratories have been immediate. Instead of clinicians wasting valuable time counting stock, manually placing orders, unpacking deliveries, and receipting delivery notes, the team simply scan products as they use them on patients and the system automatically re-orders the goods.

Using simple scanning, the system holds data on what implant has been used for which patient, allowing staff to quickly and safely track down any products in the event of an implant being recalled for safety reasons. In RCH’s cardiac catheter laboratories the time released back to patient care, has been calculated as 25 hours per week to spend on improving the quality of patient care – the equivalent of three days of a full-time clinician.

Ethna McCarthy, director of Strategy & Business Development at the trust, said: “Releasing clinicians’ time away from administrative tasks such as ordering stock has to be a priority. The Scan4Safety project in RCH’s cardiac catheter laboratories has effectively released three days per week of a full-time clinician back to patient care. In addition this project provides significant benefits for patient safety, providing patient data that will enable a rapid response in the event of any product safety recall.”

What’s next?
During 2018, high value and critical operating theatre inventory will be tagged on arrival with a unique GS1 identifier encoded into an RFID tag. The RFID system automatically identifies and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information and are familiar to everyone for their use in retail environments when they are attached to high value items, setting off an alarm if they are not removed before leaving the store.

By using a globally unique GS1 tag, the inventory can always be identified as belonging to RCHT as well as preventing double keying errors which would lead to inaccurate inventory data. The use of RFID means that within operating theatres, clinical staff can record what inventory has been used ‘hands free’ with maximum accuracy and minimum fuss.

The inventory improvements made as a result of Scan4Safety are setting standards to ensure staff have what they need, when they need it. These improvements are resulting in improved patient safety, increased time to care for nurses and are providing cost saving efficiencies.

Royal Cornwall Hospital’s Trust

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