The pandemic has shown how digital solutions can help in, for example, the safe and effective transfer of care between settings, but it’s also exposed potential gaps in information governance arrangements

Has covid helped advance digital technology’s position as central to patient safety? That was one of the questions posted during a recent HSJ webinar, held in association with Capsule Technologies.

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According to Adam Thomas, chief information officer at The Dudley Group Foundation Trust, the pandemic has certainly led to even greater focus on the safe and effective transfer of care between settings, “from the community, from the home, from primary, to secondary acute care and back again”.

A week prior to the event, he and colleagues had been discussing standard procedures for such transfers of care for covid patients.

“We were looking at [remote] pulse oximetry and managing patients in the community, making sure that that was close to the general practitioner record and the community nursing staff. But then also having the proactive trigger points and management plans in place, so that if they need in situ hospital care they’re moved effectively, and then back again.”

“The technology does exist, but I don’t think all the governance arrangements exist around it. How do you store that magnitude of data which is going to come through from those thousands and thousands of patients?”

For Mat Shaw, chief executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital FT, the pandemic has demonstrated how digital solutions can help in such scenarios – but also shown how much further there is to go.

“We’ve had thousands of people up and down the country who, in normal times, may have been admitted to hospital or may have been borderline needing hospital admission. In your ideal world, you’d have probably wanted to give those people a sat and a pulse probe that could Bluetooth to a mobile phone, which could link to a central repository, which would then actually monitor saturations and pulse, and flag and trigger when people were deteriorating.  

“The technology does exist, but I don’t think all the governance arrangements exist around it,” he said. “How do you store that magnitude of data which is going to come through from those thousands and thousands of patients? Whose responsibility is it to look at those results 24/7 and act on them? I’m not sure we’ve got that completely right but I think there’s a huge, huge potential here.”

To watch an on demand recording of the webinar, click here.

Can digital technology help embed a strong patient safety culture?