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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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New “app” helps mental health staff improve patient care

Published: 19/11/2018

Mental Health clinicians across Birmingham and Solihull are now recording their patients’ physical observations on a mobile “app” that will help improve care and make it easier for Doctors to review changes in patient health.

Over the last few months, staff at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) have been testing and honing their mobile “physical observations app” at a limited number of locations. However, the app is now complete and has been rolled out across all wards within the Trust.

Mainly used by nursing staff, patient health data is recorded at regular intervals into the app, on an Android-powered tablet device connected to the internet, which automatically updates the patient’s record.

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Dr. Hilary Grant, Medical Director of BSMHFT, commented: “The project team and clinical staff involved in the creation of this app deserve credit for their pioneering work. We’ve already received expressions of interest from other NHS Trusts who want to implement our software in their own hospitals.

“In the past, patient measurements have been recorded on paper charts and then manually transferred into our database at a later time, when staff returned to their office. Now that nursing staff are using this app, they’re saving time by recording the information only once and at source, which also reduces the likelihood of transcription errors. Once it’s recorded into the app, patient data is easy to read as it can be presented in the form of graphs and charts, and the information can also be accessed by Doctors and clinicians who are working in other locations.

“Should a nurse require advice and support in an emergency – say if a patient takes a turn for the worse – and we don’t have a Doctor on site, then Doctors at one of our other sites will be able to review the patient record and provide clinical advice remotely.”

Another key advantage of the app is that it will prompt staff to go and record the observations of a patient, based on the medical needs associated with that patient’s care. This is particularly helpful for those staff working with patients with complex needs, and taking certain medications, who will therefore require monitoring in very strictly structured ways.

This is the second app that BSMHFT has deployed across its wards in the space of six months. Earlier in the year the Trust created and deployed an app for nurses to record their patients’ therapeutic observations across all 53 inpatient wards operated by the Trust.

Both apps are part of the mental health trust’s Digital Ward project, with the aim of cutting paper usage within BSMHFT by 99% by the year 2020. Digital Ward is part of the Trust’s Global Digital Exemplar programme, which is working to transform healthcare delivery through digital innovation and then share its achievements with other areas of the NHS.