With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were immense challenges for the NHS in delivering healthcare services. All in the face of many unknowns. There was an acute need to develop flexible and alternative ways of working that would meet the needs of patients, while keeping staff safe.
An important first step was creating a means of identifying and tracking known or potential COVID-19 patients. Then providing tools to support their management through improved communication, with the potential for remote working and collaboration.
Bleepa was identified as the electronic tool to meet these rapidly evolving challenges at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Manchester.
The challenge: the pandemic
The challenges of the pandemic were unprecedented. Therefore, there was no pathway in place for COVID patients.
Clinical teams needed to develop agile and adaptable ways of managing these patients. As such, workflows needed to prioritise both patient and clinician safety. They also needed to streamline processes, enabling patients to be treated as swiftly and safely as possible.
Existing clinical systems were unable to electronically track the number of COVID patients or where they were located in the hospital.
This was complicated by the fact that some wards were being closed, and because of the need to provide isolation to ensure no cross-contamination, others dedicated to COVID patients.
The solution: electronic referrals
Following intense clinical consultation and agile product development, in less than two weeks Bleepa was rolled out as a system that could be used to support clinicians with the COVID-19 pathway.
Bleepa’s core workflows were adapted to capture COVID-19 specific clinical information and treatment requirements., like ventilation status. All while providing access to all clinical-grade medical imaging.
Bleepa was integrated with the hospital’s Patient Administration System to ensure the patient’s location was always accurate.
Aspects of Bleepa were also developed to support the electronic referral of COVID-19 patients to the respiratory inpatient team and palliative care. As well as supporting research nurses to identify appropriate patients for the COVID-19 recovery trial.
Bleepa supported clinical communication by enabling patient-centric chat functionality which in some cases reduced the need for a clinician to have to physically see the patient.
This was not only more efficient but also safer for staff as it reduced unnecessary exposure to infected patients. As patients could be tracked as they moved around the hospital as their condition improved or deteriorated.
As a result of the intense collaboration with the clinical team at the Royal Oldham Hospital, Bleepa has evolved to become an even more powerful and clinically relevant tool providing electronic patient referrals, remote access to clinical imaging, and the ability to review cases and communicate with other members of the clinical team.
Remote patient referrals and reviews enable clinicians to minimise unnecessary contact with patients and so reduce their risk of infection.
Bleepa has also created a source of data that can be interrogated to support links between patient treatment and outcomes.