Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust chose InfoFlex to supply the database and patient management system (PMS) for their Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) care.
Key improvements after InfoFlex implementation
- Providing patients with tailored care
- Better monitoring of patients on immunosuppressive drugs
- View information in real-time
- Data less likely to be lost or disordered
- More accurate billing of patients’ activity
- Data retrieval time significantly reduced
- Generates GP letters, saving administrative time
- Ability to log Helpline calls improves continuity and reporting
- Allowing patients to self-monitor can obviate need for yearly check-ups
- Frees up many outpatient appointments at DCHFT, saving time
- Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) funding could be obtained for the outpatient appointments saved
Ease of use
- InfoFlex IBD PMS set up and working within three months
- InfoFlex and DCHFT teams worked closely together
- Interoperability key to improving patient care
- InfoFlex IBD PMS meets all IBD data collection and reporting needs
Previously, DCHFT recorded their patient data on Excel spreadsheets but the “inaccurate”, “clunky” system was dependent on a single operator. The InfoFlex versatile electronic PMS was identified by the DCHFT as being vital to providing their patients with the tailored care they require.
DCHFT aimed to improve patient safety through better monitoring of patients on immunosuppressive drugs, and to improve patient care with the ability to view information in real-time on an electronic database rather than using hospital notes. DCHFT also aimed to improve the patient experience through streamlining working practices, such as printing or emailing treatment summaries and letters in clinic rather than posting to a patient or their GP.
The InfoFlex IBD PMS would achieve this while allowing for more accurate billing of IBD patients’ activity; for example, the capture of non-clinic contacts with patients that could be chargeable to commissioners.
The IBD PMS would also facilitate data entry to mandatory national IBD audits, helping DCHFT to deliver safe and quality care that met national standards.
Design and implementation
“We knew exactly what we were trying to achieve and the benefits that were going to come out of it. We were very clear and concise.”
Annette Guler,, ICT Clinical Systems Project Manager
Working together closely, DCHFT and InfoFlex set up the IBD PMS within three months. They cite a number of reasons for the quick implementation, in particular strong communication between the ICT department and healthcare professionals, highly motivated staff, and a clear set of aims.
The project was ICT-managed alongside clinicians, nurses and administrative users. This core team drew up a business proposal for an electronic IBD system catering for both staff and patients’ needs. Each stage of the project was closely monitored and assessed to ensure the project board adhered to the timescale, with weekly conference calls to ensure milestones were met.
ICT clinical systems project manager Annette Guler said, “We knew exactly what we were trying to achieve and the benefits that were going to come out of it. We were very clear and concise.”
Provided there is close communication with users, ICT-led projects have proved effective for DCHFT because those with the relevant technical knowledge, particularly DCHFT’s senior staff, are put in the driving seat. This allows them to liaise with implementers and provide clinicians and patients with the best possible system for their needs.
IBD Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Pearl Avery, who was involved in the implementation process, said, “working in partnership with clinicians allows ICT to know what clinicians want, which eases the process.”
Results and benefits
“While it is early days we have already seen the benefits in smarter working, streamlining process including the production of GP letters providing real-time communication between primary and secondary care.”
Pearl Avery, IBD CNS
After identifying the InfoFlex IBD PMS as an intuitive, user-friendly system, ICT and clinical staff at DCHFT are pleased with its swift implementation. The InfoFlex team was praised for its open-mindedness, responsiveness and willingness to communicate, and its flexibility and interoperability fitted with DCHFT’s strategic direction.
ICT clinical systems project manager Annette Guler said, “Getting the interfaces in and working successfully is a real tick in the box for InfoFlex. Interoperability and sharing data is key to improving patient care and is a priority on the NHS agenda.”
With a dedicated electronic PMS, data is less likely to be lost or disordered. Having a patient’s data to hand means queries can be dealt with quickly, with patient waiting times for catch-up calls significantly reduced.
Additional time saving benefits include generating and emailing of GP letters, and the IBD PMS alerting function, which allows clinicians and CNS to see immediately when an IBD patient has been admitted to hospital. These improvements are useful for the hospital and reassuring for the patient.
IBD CNS Pearl Avery said, “While it’s early days we have already seen the benefits in smarter working, streamlining process including the production of GP letters providing real-time communication between primary and secondary care.
“One experienced IBD Nurse in the team reported the ability to electronically log Helpline calls had greatly improved continuity and reporting. It allows the IBD nursing team to show the value of the IBD service and its impact on admission avoidance.”
IBD was used as a test bed for the InfoFlex product which is now likely to be used elsewhere within the hospital in the foreseeable future. DCHFT has scoped their servers in anticipation of installing more InfoFlex systems.
DCHFT currently use Apple products at the bedside such as iPads and iPods, as well as mobile laptops on trolleys around the hospital. They are keen to use InfoFlex alongside these to implement a patient web portal or a Patient Related Outcome Measures (PROMs) platform. DCHFT hopes to initiate a project for a patient web portal within the next year.
With a patient portal, patients can access information such as their own blood results, enabling them to self-manage their illness. In addition, patients’ ability to access information leaflets online will save money in printing costs for the hospital in the long term.
PROMs also allow patients to self-monitor. If a patient feels well and can record and manage their illness using PROMs, they do not necessarily need a yearly check-up, freeing up outpatient appointments. This could generate income for the hospital as Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) funding could be obtained for the outpatient appointments saved.
IBD CNS Pearl Avery said, “Once we are using the PROMs questionnaires we will have a more objective view of the patient’s general wellbeing rather than a subjective view guided by the experience of the clinician.”
Currently not all clinicians at DCHFT are using the IBD PMS but the aim is to have all clinicians comfortable using the system within nine months. Once this is achieved and the system is fully populated with data, patients will benefit from continuity of care between clinicians. DCHFT also hopes to analyse trends in their data, to identify patients’ needs and better manage them in the future, as part of generally improved working practice as information continues to be stored on the system.
Annette Guler explained, “There is still functionality in the system that hasn’t been explored yet. It’s an ongoing journey.”