A small change to clinical practice has improved the flow of heart patients throughout our hospitals, saving money and improving sustainability.
Across Barts Health, we produce more than 80,000 electrocardiogram – or ECGs – each year and in 2022-23 around 70% were performed on paper. This meant recording the results by hand in patient notes. Staff cited difficulties finding the document in subsequent clinical reviews.
Realising how inefficient this was, the interventional cardiology team at St Bartholomew’s Hospital decided to transform the process by digitising every ECG across our group of hospitals.
To achieve digitisation, 70 WiFi enabled ECG machines were purchased. The systems were set up so that ECG results were automatically populated onto patient records and could be captured from anywhere across Barts Health, be it an outpatient clinic, A&E or on the ward.
The new scheme is expected to save thousands annually on printing costs.
In addition, by removing time-intensive steps such as data entry and manually matching records on other Trust systems, there has been a significant reduction in ‘time lost’ by staff.
Cardiovascular disease remains a significant killer in the UK and it accounts for at least 1.18 million hospital admissions every year. However, currently only 21% of hospitals are classed as ‘digitally mature’ and 10% continue to rely heavily on paper.
Dr Krishnaraj Sinhji Rathod, consultant in interventional cardiology, who led the change, said:
We are one step closer to our aim of being paper free. This is good news for staff, who now have more time to spend with patients, and for patients, who experience fewer delays thanks to a more efficient service.
The initiative was shortlisted as a finalist in the HSJ Digital Awards 2022 in the ‘Moving towards being Net Zero through digital’ category as well the HSJ Awards 2023 in the “Digitilising patient care award”.