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Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is part of University Hospitals of Northamptonshire and provides acute healthcare services for the people of North Northamptonshire and South Leicestershire.

Services are delivered from a main hospital site in Kettering, and satellite outpatient facilities at Prospect House in Kettering, Nene Park in Irthlingborough, Corby Health Complex and Isebrook Hospital in Wellingborough.  The Trust employs around 4,000 staff and is one of the largest employers in Northamptonshire looking after over 300,000 outpatients and 41,500 inpatients a year, as well as providing a range of community services.

Kate Hepton is Head of Capacity and Operational Transformation for the Trust – her role is to manage the Clinical Site Management Team and the Hospital at Night Team and she works closely with a varied group of staff to ensure the smooth and safe processing of 24/7 patient flow across the Trust.

Stone Group is a trusted advisor to the NHS

The Trust approached Stone Group to advise on the best solution for replacing their former whiteboards which are used on the wards to manage beds.  “Using a whiteboard and pen to try and get an overview of where patients were and when they were being admitted and discharged was quite time consuming,” explains Kate. “We could get the information from one area, move to another place in the hospital and then find the information we had collected previously had changed. It was a time consuming and often frustrating process.”

Stone Group is a trusted partner to more than 20% of NHS Trusts in the UK which means it has the experience to advise and guide the service to the most relevant technological solution. In this case, the Trust was looking for a solution that would allow Kate and her team to work more efficiently and flexibly and Stone Group advised the installation of several Viewsonic IFP5550-3 interactive whiteboards.

Offering a highly instinctive interactive interface and using a low blue light that offers eye-care certified display, the ViewBoard boasts synchronous writing performance. Users can write smoothly with the pen that functions as an extension of fingertips and simultaneously with the equipped dual different coloured pens. In addition, the ViewBoard offers wireless content sharing from most devices and offers a clever four-way split screen display.

Kate said: “The immediate benefit is how the system allows us to see instantaneously how busy each ward is and where the patients are. There is so much more information available to us at the touch of a button and it allows all relevant staff to get a clear picture of our capacity.”

"Covid would have been a lot harder to manage without these Stone Group recommended View Boards. The efficiency improvements have been such that the Trust is looking to extend the roll out, we wondered how we ever managed without them."

Kate Hepton, Head of Capacity and Operational Transformation

ViewBoards help manage Covid

The Covid crisis has meant that moving patients around the Trust has to be very carefully managed and the new boards have been particularly helpful in this area.  “It’s vital we know the Covid status of every in-patient and this can change quite quickly,” said Kate. “However, because we can now instantly access this information from anywhere on the premises we can manage Covid patients much better. This not only benefits care of Covid patients but helps to keep all patients safe. It also helps us organize practical things like cleaning and sanitizing certain areas in a much more efficient way.”

In addition, the ViewBoard helps the Trust review what help patients may require upon discharge, for example, mobility assistance, mental health advice or even any nutritional support which may need to be put in place before they leave and the ViewBoard has been really helpful in managing patient flow out of hospital and ensuring it is safe to do so.

“Rather than physically running around the wards counting beds and looking at all kinds of information on a whiteboard, the ViewBoard allows me to look at the planned and definite discharge information from anywhere,” said Kate. “We now have the full picture at our fingertips making us much more informed and the whole process is so much faster and efficient than what we had previously.”

Operation Command can be viewed simultaneously

In the operation command centre of the Trust, Kate’s team had limited space to assess the situation in the various emergency areas which include a main emergency department, same day emergency care, a children’s emergency depart and a minor illness and injuries clinic.  A major issue for Kate’s team was trying to work with just one screen to try to assess what was going on in four different areas.  Overcrowding, particularly bearing in mind the issues caused by Covid, had to be closely monitored, however, this was a frustrating process as the four areas could not be viewed at the same time.

Kate adds: “The ViewBoard allows us to split the screen into four which means we can physically see these areas simultaneously. It has made such a difference and we can also look at how long they have been waiting, whether they have been referred or whether they are going to be admitted.  This also ensures that we keep patient wait times within the government requirements and if one area looks to be getting too busy or there are any other challenges we can take action to decompress the situation.

“Previously we had to keep physically counting patients in and out which could be very stressful. Now however, it’s one less thing to think about and we can spend that time on patient care.”

The ViewBoards are quite intuitive to use, however, Stone Group ensured that training was available so that Trust staff were confident in using them.

Touch screen wireless integration improves staff and patient experience

“Having this touch screen wireless technology on all wards has created efficiencies for many staff,” said Kate.  “Essentially staff can log into patient records very quickly from the ward which saves time going back and forth to their offices.

Kate says her team’s job has been made much easier thanks to the installation of these Stone Group recommended ViewBoards.  “We used to spend a lot of time ringing wards for information and it was repetitive and time consuming.  We know our colleagues on the wards would also find it wearisome that they had to spend so much time answering our requests and so it has made everyone’s life easier.”

In addition to helping staff, the ViewBoards also benefit patients. Kate adds: “We are able to have more oversight of any clinical concerns. Staff can make better decisions for their patients which will ultimately improve the patient experience as this fully integrated system allows us to pull up and collect data from multiple NHS systems including Connect for clinical observation scores.  If the score is high it flags this up and links to our patient flow system –and at click of a button we can see all the details we need. This then provides the bigger picture and allows us to reduce patient stays in hospital and ensure they have the most relevant care plan in place on discharge.”

The Trust has been so impressed with the ViewBoards that it looking to purchase more screens so that eventually its entire estate will be covered.

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