Tracey Wrench reflects on the transformative impact of Oxehealth’s Oxevision in enhancing patient safety and supporting healthcare staff, emphasising the need for technology to align with quality care

I offer this article as my reflections on working with Oxehealth over the last eight years in my role as executive director of nursing and quality of two NHS mental health trusts.

The fundamental responsibility of any healthcare provider is to keep a patient safe. We continue to be challenged to ensure every patient receives safe mental health in-patient care evidenced through repeated Care Quality Commission inspections, public inquiries, coronial processes, and press exposes.

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Patient observations, which can be as frequent as constant or every 15 minutes, are a fundamental part of clinical practice and are designed to ensure the safety of patients whilst promoting positive therapeutic relationships with staff and recovery. But they can also be seen by patients as intrusive and taking away their privacy and dignity, leading to distress. Staff undertaking observations must balance the risks of potential patient distress of increased levels of observation against the safety risk.

Facilitating the right culture to support staff in the making of dynamic personalised risk assessment in the context of the demanding and stressful in-patient environments they work in is one of our most long-standing and complex problems as healthcare leaders.

The role of technology

We have to work smarter and a key part of that as a healthcare leader is to ensure our staff are supported with the best tools and technology. This does not take away from the essential value we place upon high-quality personalised care that engages patients as partners.

In both trusts where I was executive director of nursing, we were early adopters of a remote patient monitoring tool, Oxevision, providing a digital enhancement to support increased patient safety in a constrained staffing environment whilst also ensuring patient privacy, security, and a good night’s sleep. As soon as we started using Oxevision, the benefits to both staff and patients were immediately clear. It became a critically important tool to support our staff in keeping patients safe.

In recent conversations at a Mental Health Chairs meeting, colleagues reported how Oxevision had enabled their staff to save at least nine lives in mental health acute settings.

There’s a growing recognition that data can help not only enhance staff productivity so we can spend more time with patients, but more fundamentally it can support significantly improved patient safety and clinical outcomes. It saves patients’ lives.

This view is not isolated. In recent conversations at a mental health chairs meeting, colleagues reported how Oxevision had enabled their staff to save at least nine lives in mental health acute settings.

I’m excited by future technology developments – and the potential they can bring to further improve safety. I welcome the recent focus on how we use technology in a way that manages the balance between privacy, dignity, and patient safety and ensures we get the right consent model. It’s great to see how Oxehealth has partnered with mental health trusts to design OxeObs, a tool to digitise supportive patient observations. It has been designed to specifically respond to the current in-patient environment. It supports staff by making it quick and easy to track observations, assuring safety, and a rich source of data for more informed care.

In the midst of so many challenges in healthcare today, we need to embrace new ways of working whilst recognising that technology can never be a simple fix. It needs to be something that genuinely helps provide effective high quality patient care and supports staff in delivering that care and it’s why companies like Oxehealth need to continue to work alongside a broad range of stakeholders when developing future solutions.