Digital communication tool is shortlisted for HSJ Award following trial at West Suffolk Foundation Trust

An innovative alternative to pagers trialled by the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) has been shortlisted for a prestigious healthcare award.

The Trust has been shortlisted for the national Health Service Journal Awards for ‘Using Technology to Improve Efficiency’ after testing a new digital communication tool.

‘Medic Bleep’ is an app that allows hospital and community staff to communicate in real time, sharing vital information and updates about patients accurately and safely. Whilst not a replacement for face-to-face communication, the new technology is considered far more effective than the pager system which is common in most hospitals.

Following support from the EAHSN, the company behind Medic Bleep, ‘Medic Creations’, ran a successful pilot at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, and is now working on rolling the product out to other hospitals.

The team will now present to a panel of judges before finding out if they have won at the awards ceremony in November.

Nick Jenkins, medical director for WSFT, said:

“As a global digital exemplar trust, we’re always on the lookout for new technology and thinking about how we can digitally enhance what we do. It’s great to be recognised as a Trust that is trying new approaches to communication and patient care.

“One key advantage was how easy it was for clinicians to use. Staff were able to communicate everything from arranging shift cover to sharing patient observations. The beauty of Medic Bleep is that it’s completely data protected under EU regulations, meaning clinicians can safely discuss patients and their care knowing the information is absolutely secure. Everything done in and communicated via the app is auditable as well.”

“We were delighted with the results of the Medic Bleep trial and want to continue looking at how we can make changes to improve how we work for both staff and for patients.”

Results of the trial showed that the tool improved communication response time, which is some cases led to faster discharge for patients, and left a clearer audit trail than the system they had previously used. Under the trial, Medic Bleep saved nurses 21 minutes every shift, and junior doctors 48 minutes a shift – freeing up more time to care directly for patients.

Piers Ricketts, Chief Executive of Eastern Academic Health Science Network, said:

“Our role is to help find new ways to improve the care and performance of healthcare in our region, and we are delighted that Medic Bleep is proving such a success. The trial is showing how innovative technology can free up clinical time and hence contribute to improved patient outcomes.”

Matt Hancock, the hospital’s local MP, highlighted the project during his inaugural speech after he was appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in July, saying:

“Let this be clear: tech transformation is coming. I want to see more technology like this become available to all, not just a select few. The right use of technology can save time and money, it can improve patient safety too.”

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