Until recently the Accident and Emergency department at Charing Cross Hospital encountered a number of problems when recording patient data. The problem wasn’t clinical, but administrative. Nurses were inputting and displaying patient information in two separate places - on a pen and ink manual whiteboard that was regularly updated throughout the course of a shift, and digitally via a central PC.

At the time, the A&E department had recently purchased a software package called

Symphony from Ascribe to provide a structured display of the location and status of current patients.

Information was being entered into the Symphony solution via a PC, but the manual pen and ink whiteboard was still being used as the main administrative tool by the Charge nurses. As a result, information was being fed into both, inconsistencies were a regular occurrence and records were often out of date or contained conflicting information.

Henry Dowlen, a doctor working in the A&E department at Charing Cross, identified the possibility of using interactive whiteboards to combat these problems and combine both methods into one. Following the decision to trial an interactive whiteboard, Dr Dowlen contacted Steljes, the UK representative for SMART Technologies. Steljes then worked with its trade partner, Leapfrog, to conduct a pilot project in January 2007, consisting of one board being installed in the A&E department.

The trial was initially meant to be one month long, but was extended to two months after a larger SMART board was deemed more appropriate for the amount of information that needed to be viewed simultaneously. A larger board allowed an electronic notepad to be shown side by side with the Symphony solution, to record more specific information or extended patient data.

Centralising all records created a time saving of up to 20 minutes per patient in busy shifts. This not only resulted in faster treatment times for patients, but staff were also able to provide a higher quality, more precise level of patient care due to easier sharing of information.

The charge nurses were impressed with the more legible and movable information; the fact that more time was created to spend on clinical instead of administrative duties; and that the board has been particularly useful for the regular handover meetings held within the A&E department.

As part of the survey with staff following the pilot, one of the nurses commented; "I find I have much more time to carry out clinical duties than I did before we started. It’s improved communications between people in the department, as messages are clearly read, instead of just left unnoticed.”