Cutlers’ Better Learners Better Workers Ambassadors Discover Technology in the Health Service

Published Thursday 3 August 2017 in Sheffield

The Cutlers’ Better Learners Better Workers Ambassadors visited the Hallamshire Hospital in July to see some of the uses of technology in the health service. The visit was organised by Tracey Scotter, Director of Informatics, who explained the technology challenges faced by the hospital. This included the number of different IT systems used across the service, alongside a gigantic store of paper-based patient health records, occupying a room the size of a football pitch.

The Ambassadors found out about inspiring uses of technology in the hospital, including Virtual Reality applications, robot-based operations, online communities, web-based assessment tools, mobile phone applications, patient biofeedback and monitoring devices. The systems are in use across all departments, not just in administrative areas such as HR and Finance, but also in supporting patient treatment.

A visit to the central pharmacy allowed Ambassadors to see robots which help store and dispense medicines, a prescription tracking system, a temperature monitoring system and a core system that orders and monitors stocks of medicines, writes labels, and works with robots to dispense.

Ambassadors gained hands on experience using e-Whiteboards on wards, and through the use of robots in the hospital pharmacy.  Darren Banks, e-Whiteboard Architect, and Deanne Driscoll, Innovation and Technology Lead Nurse, explained how e-whiteboards are in the process of being introduced onto all wards so that a patient’s journey through hospital can be tracked more efficiently.  They continued to explain that the system also lets the hospital maximise bed usage, so that when one bed becomes empty, the information is uploaded onto the system in real time and the bed can be used for another patient immediately.  Ambassadors learnt that the biggest issue is reluctance of staff to switch from the tried-and-tested paper record to the new IT-based system.  they also learnt that as part of Deanne’s role, an experienced nurse, she is essential for convincing staff that Darren’s whiteboards are a more efficient and time-saving system.

A later session involved a visit to the hospital’s pharmacy, where the Chief Pharmacist, Damian Child, demonstrated how a robot is used to collect prescriptions from the store far more efficiently than the many runners that were previously used.

The day concluded with information about the many technology-based careers available in the NHS, where Ambassadors learnt that communication based roles are equally as important as technical know-how. Ambassadors delivered five-minute presentations about how they thought the NHS might make best use of technology in the future.

Suggestions included a medical ‘bus pass’ type application, containing patient information such as the patient’s genome, which could link to an application that the hospital has already developed giving laboratory test results and discharge information to patients on their mobile phones. Other Ambassador suggestions included: a wrist band with GPS tracker and RFID on phones; 3d printing to replace body parts and RFID tags.  The winner was All Saints School, because they had considered ethical and other obstacles to the introduction of the new technology, which is always something the NHS has to consider carefully. They took away an impressive trophy which will hold a proud place at the school.

Congratulations to them and all the Cutlers’ Better Learners Better Workers Ambassadors for some very thoughtful presentations which showed how much they had learnt from the visit!

Better Learners Better Workers